As the new Equality Bill makes it’s way through parliament, Tim Boswell, Conservative MP for Daventry, has proposed that it should be extended to cover volunteers. Boswell’s new clause states that, with the exception of matters related to pay, “all rights of employees under this act are deemed to extend to persons who work as volunteers without remuneration; and all duties of employees and their employers to avoid discrimination are deemed to extend to volunteers working without remuneration”.
If this goes through it would potentially have quite a big impact on volunteer involving organisations, particularly smaller ones with less formal systems in place. Over the course of my career I have seen quite a lot of cases of blatant discrimination, and a big part of me would welcome a move to give volunteers the right to challenge this. However I do also worry that without the resources to develop, and manage appropriate policies, procedures and practice, many organisations are going to seriously struggle.
If Tim Boswell’s amendment was accepted, would it be a positive step forward to making volunteering accessible to everyone, or would it create a burden for organisations making volunteer involvement to bureaucratic and formal?