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TUC and Volunteering England launch Volunteers' Charter

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The TUC and Volunteering England have launched a campaign to strengthen ties between paid staff and volunteers.

The Volunteers' Charter sets out a series of principles for employers to follow to encourage a good working relationship between volunteers, employers and paid staff. These include giving people the right to volunteer or not, volunteers should receive ‘reasonable' out-of-office expenses, the roles of volunteers should complement the work of paid staff and volunteers should be given access to training.

The charter recognises the value the UK's 22 million volunteers make to the economy and wider society, which is estimated to be worth £23 billion every year.

The TUC is publishing new guidance to accompany the Volunteers' Charter. The guidance explains while volunteers are not entitled to the same rights as an employee -such as the minimum wage, holiday and sickness pay - they should still receive some form of agreement from the organisation they are volunteering with.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "With over 200,000 reps, the trade union movement is one of the biggest volunteering organisations in the UK.

"We strongly believe in the value of volunteering and want a new Community Day bank holiday to celebrate and encourage volunteering.

"An increasing number of interns and volunteers have been taken on during the recession. With so many people concerned about their jobs, it's vital that employers make a clear distinction between volunteers and paid staff. By following the principles of the Volunteers' Charter, employers can encourage a good between volunteers and employees."

And Volunteering England chief executive Justin Davis Smith welcomed the charter: He added: "We have been delighted to work with the TUC in developing and agreeing this Charter. It is particularly important in the current economic conditions to be clear about the distinct roles of paid staff and volunteers.

"In the long view, too, we are pleased to be part of such a historic agreement, recognising the complementary roles of volunteers and paid staff."