Policy Statement

  1. As part of our commitment to staff development and the local community, the University operates an employer-supported volunteering scheme, giving University staff members the opportunity to volunteer during work-time. Opportunities are wide-ranging: from individual placements drawing upon an individual's professional experience, to departmental team challenges involving practical tasks.
  2. The University of York's passion and commitment to the public good have never been more important. Collectively we can make a difference in our city, our region and especially in those communities where it matters most.
  3. Volunteering offers an opportunity to actively contribute to the communities in which volunteers work and live. Volunteers use their knowledge, skills and experiences to support community or voluntary sector organisations in their service delivery or strategic development.
  4. Volunteering is also a great way to develop skills and engage with new people by taking on exciting and rewarding challenges. Volunteering benefits the local community, the volunteer and the University.
  5. This policy complements and is additional to the University's existing Leave in Special Circumstances Policy

Key Principles

  1. The provisions of this policy and procedure apply to all staff directly employed by the University.
  2. Permission of the line manager must be sought before participation in the scheme. In order to avoid service disruption, the timing of volunteer activity must also be agreed with the line manager. However, permission will not be unreasonably withheld.
  3. The only volunteering activities that will be recognised by the University's scheme will be those that are advertised through York Cares. Volunteering will take place with York Cares partner charities and organisations. We will also support staff to continue with external volunteering arrangements established during COVID-19 pandemic and managed via Volunteering, within the Careers Service together with those established to support Ukraine refugees..
  4. All organisations seeking volunteers from York have to provide full risk assessments to the University and demonstrate that they have appropriate Employment Liability Insurance in place which will cover staff whilst volunteering.
  5. Permanent full time members of staff are permitted two days paid leave in every 12 month period to participate in the Staff Volunteering Scheme (pro-rata for part time staff or staff on fixed term contracts of less than 12 months).
  6. Approval in relation to a further period of volunteering may be granted by line managers but it may also be withdrawn should the needs of the service change or in order to allow other members of staff to participate in the Scheme.
  7. Volunteering days can be taken consecutively or as a series of full, half days or hourly sessions.
  8. The University will not be responsible for any travelling expenses incurred; however, many organisations reimburse travel expenses.
  9. There will be no impact on pensions for any periods of volunteering leave for which staff are in receipt of your normal pay.
  10. Any periods of unpaid leave may impact on staff pensions, but the impact will be different depending on which scheme they are a member of. Prior to requesting any unpaid periods of leave staff should check what impact it may have on their pension and what options may be available to them.


To make an application for supported volunteering, please follow the steps set out below:

  1. Contact York Cares to register your interest; both individual and team opportunities are available.
  2. Discuss your chosen volunteering opportunity with your line manager and agree when the volunteering leave will be taken.
  3. If you are a sponsored worker you will also need to confirm with HR Compliance that any volunteering activity is permissible under the terms of your visa. Whilst the University is keen to support all staff to undertake volunteering opportunities, staff currently sponsored on a visa must adhere to the specific rules associated with their sponsorship in order not to breach the terms.
  4. Use the leave in special circumstances form to record the details of your leave.
  5. Record the absence on your department's leave management system.
  6. If you have any questions about this policy please refer to HR Enquiries