The NHS have asked for a volunteer army to help vulnerable people stay safe and well at home during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The response rate has been so high (it has already received over 750,000 applications), the recruitment process has been temporarily paused to give the service time to process these applications.

The scheme

The NHS need people to join the NHS Volunteer Responders to do simple but vital tasks  to help people who are self isolating, needing help travelling to and from hospital and keeping in touch those who may be lonely because they are self isolating.

To comply with the UK’s current ‘Stay at Home’ rules individuals can only volunteer to carry out the above tasks which involve leaving their homes if they fulfil all of the conditions below:

  • They are well and have no symptoms like a cough or high temperature and neither does anybody in their household
  • They are under 70
  • They are not pregnant
  • They don't have any long-term health condition

Who can sign up to be a volunteer?

Most volunteers must be aged 18 or over, fit and well, with no symptoms. However this does not preclude those in higher-risk groups from applying and if successful, they will given roles that don't require face to face contact, such as making telephone calls to support people. 

Implications for employers

This scheme is not part of the new statutory emergency volunteering leave which is only available to specific types of worker.  Staff who want to volunteer under the general scheme do not therefore have the right to take time off to volunteer.

Depending on the wording of their contracts of employment, your staff may need your permission to become volunteers. You should not unreasonably refuse any request.

If you have furloughed staff, they will also be able to volunteer - although they may also need your approval. More information about the Coronavirus: Job Retention Scheme are available here.

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