Volunteering Code of Practice and Dispute Resolution Procedure

(Approved by the MCofS Board 16 May 2013)

The content of this page is also available as a download

1.0 Introduction

The purpose of this Code of Practice is to provide volunteers with a set of basic guidelines and general expectations concerning their work for the MCofS and does not give rise to any commitment either way. Reference is made to relevant MCofS policies and procedures which have been approved by the MCofS Board and which affect volunteers work. Copies of these documents are available from the MCofS Chief Officer.

2.0 Your Importance to MCofS Work

Volunteers support and sometimes guide the work of our paid officers, their work ranging from corporate and strategic direction, provision of expert knowledge, to providing the necessary help at indoor and outdoor activities which make such events possible. Volunteers undertake an important role with the MCofS and their contribution is often critical to how stakeholders, the public and members perceive the MCofS and its work.

The volunteer relationship is one of trust and mutual understanding. The MCofS is committed to giving volunteers the best experience possible and in return has expectations of how volunteers conduct themselves.

3.0 Who is a Volunteer?

A volunteer is someone who is not an employee and who does not receive financial compensation beyond the reimbursement of expenses and who performs a task at the request of, or on behalf of, MCofS.

The volunteer relationship is binding in honour, trust and mutual understanding. With the exception of Board members, no enforceable obligation, contractual or otherwise can be imposed on volunteers. Likewise MCofS does not undertake to provide regular volunteering opportunities, payment or other benefit for any activity undertaken. This Code of Practice is not intended to be a legally binding agreement nor does it intend or create any employment relationship, employment rights or worker rights now or in the future.

4.0 Types of Volunteer

There are four types of volunteer:

4.1 Elected members

Elected members serve as directors on the MCofS Board. The duties of Board members are defined in the Companies Act 2006, and in the MCofS Articles of Association. Board members are elected by the membership at an AGM.

4.2 Advisory and Working Group membership

The MCofS maintains a number of advisory groups which inform and support the work of officers. Each advisory group has a remit approved by the Board, and is chaired (usually) by a director, or by an appointed chair with a reporting line to the Board through a nominated director.

Working Groups are established with the approval of the Board to support staff through the implementation of a specific project and are usually led by a member with specific expertise in the relevant field.

4.3 Members’ Event volunteers

Event volunteers may be un-qualified, active, experienced participants, or qualified to appropriate National Standards. National Standards are the National Awards in outdoor education recognised by the MCofS and operated by Mountain Training. Event volunteers may hold recognised qualifications including qualifications / awards / certificates relating to sport development activities provided by courses other than Mountain Training (e.g. route-setting awards, judging courses).

4.4 Casual Volunteers

Casual volunteers provide assistance to the MCofS on an ad-hoc basis. Examples may include office duties, research, film festivals and other events, etc.

5.0 What Volunteers can expect from the MCofS

  • To match MCofS needs with the skills, knowledge, experience and motivation of the volunteer.
  • To recognise that successful volunteer involvement incorporates the individual’s motivations, aspirations and choices.
  • To ensure that staff have an understanding of how to work effectively with volunteers.
  • To ensure that volunteers receive appropriate information and support to help them deliver in their roles.
  • To respect volunteers, listen and learn from what they have to say, consistently encouraging two-way communication.
  • To provide timely and accurate information about MCofS work, policies and procedures.
  • To foster a friendly and supportive atmosphere - aiming to make volunteering fun.
  • To make appropriate financial and other provisions in operational planning and budgets which recognise the importance and relevance of volunteers.
  • To try to resolve fairly any complaints or grievances.
  • To ensure every volunteer has access to a member of staff to guide and advise them.
  • To take necessary steps to ensure the health, safety and welfare of volunteers whilst undertaking their volunteering activities.
  • To celebrate success and recognise loyalty and dedication.

6.0 What the MCofS expects from Volunteers

  • To promote, maintain and uphold the reputation of the MCofS at all times. Avoid tweeting, blogging or otherwise publishing any information or material that could bring you or the MCofS or risk bringing you or the MCofS into disrepute.
  • To co-operate with staff and operate to relevant guidelines and remits.
  • To be a positive role model for the sport or activity you are volunteering in.
  • Where appropriate, to support the achievement of MCofS strategic aims, taking necessary steps to understand relevant plans and policies.
  • To aim for high standards of efficiency, reliability and quality in all aspects of your contribution.
  • To respect the need for confidentiality whenever you have access to privileged information, including, but not limited to, Board papers and matters of a personal nature relating to staff.
  • To take reasonable care of your own health and safety whilst volunteering and that of others who may be affected by your actions or omissions.
  • To encourage two-way communication with other volunteers and paid staff, fostering a pleasant and friendly atmosphere.
  • To treat everyone equally regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage, or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief or sex and encourage others to do likewise.
  • To accept that the ultimate responsibility for MCofS affairs rests with the Board and paid staff.
  • To declare any actual or potential conflict of interest as soon as possible, and to work within the law.
  • To never condone or encourage rule violation or the use of substances or techniques prohibited by the World Anti Doping Agency. To bring to the attention of a member of MCofS Staff or Chief Executive if any prohibited substances are being used

7.0 Recruitment

All volunteers should be paid-up members of the MCofS, or a member of a Club Member who is currently registered with the MCofS. In exceptional circumstances, and with the exception of the exclusions stated in Section 9.0 below, this requirement may be waived where the Board and / or Chief Officer consider that the volunteer’s specific skills will be of benefit to the MCofS.

In all cases the MCofS must be satisfied that the volunteer possesses the appropriate personal qualities e.g. responsible, reliable and considerate of those around them.

The MCofS does not specify an upper age limit and recognises the valuable contribution made by all volunteers in terms of knowledge and experience. Younger volunteers can bring fresh perspectives and enthusiasm to MCofS whilst gaining valuable skills and experience.

The MCofS has a minimum volunteering age of 18 years for all roles, with the exception of 14 years for kid’s club members assisting at MCofS climbing events.

8.0 Recognising and Recruiting Volunteer Requirements

The requirement for specific volunteer skills or resources will usually be brought to the attention of the Chief Officer or a specialist officer, who will take steps to advertise the vacancy through the magazine, vacancy notice on the website , News4Clubs and e-Newsletters to Individual Members.

The person responsible for recruiting the volunteer will also be responsible for responding to all enquiries in a timely and efficient manner.

Volunteer candidates will usually be selected and proposed for acceptance by the responsible officer, and may be subject to approval by the Board, advisory or working group chair, according to the circumstances. See section 4.0 for relevant guidance.

9.0 Insurance

The MCofS takes its approach to risk seriously. As such, all paid up members of the MCofS are covered by Civil Liability Insurance which, with the exception of claims awarded in respect of child abuse, provides cover against claims made on the basis of personal or officers’ negligence to a limit of £10m.

In respect of climbing activities, the MCofS will only engage volunteers who are paid up members, or who have their own professional liability insurance covering their involvement in MCofS activities. The MCofS Mountaineering Development Officer is responsible for ensuring that either paid up membership or relevant professional liability insurance cover is current at the time of an event.

The Civil Liability Insurance does not provide Personal Accident Cover, and the MCofS does not provide motor insurance for volunteers using their own vehicle. Volunteer work is normally classed as social domestic pleasure use and not business use, but volunteers should check with their insurer to confirm that their policy provides cover for voluntary work. At 45p per mile, the standard mileage allowance claimed through expenses includes a contribution for insurance, maintenance, tax and depreciation.

Volunteers requiring further guidance on risk or insurance-related matters should contact the Chief Officer.

10.0 Incident Reporting

Volunteers must report any accident / incident occurring in the MCofS office to the Chief Officer.

Incidents occurring outside of the office environment which may result in a claim of negligence against the individual or the MCofS must be reported immediately to the Chief Officer and the MCofS insurers, using the agreed incident notification guidelines which are detailed in the Confirmation of Club Cover to The Sports Team, Perkins Slade Limited, 3 Broadway, Broad Street, Birmingham B15 1BQ. Telephone 0121 698 8000; Fax 0121 625 9000. email sports@perkins-slade.com.

11.0 Training and Development

New volunteers will be provided with relevant information which will enable them to undertake their role:

11.1 Elected and co-opted members

There is a formal process for the induction of directors, approved by the Board and undertaken by the Chief Officer. [LINK to Induction Procedure for Directors]

11.2 Advisory and Working Group membership

The Advisory / Working Group chair is responsible for briefing new group members, including the Group remit as approved by the Board, and may also brief volunteers with relevant information selected from the Induction Procedure for Directors which provides a context for the work of the group.

11.3 Event volunteers

The Mountaineering Development Officer is responsible for briefing event volunteers and for ensuring that all event participants are aware of and comply fully with relevant MCofS policies and procedures, including those related to membership, child and vulnerable adult protection, anti-doping, equity, and the Events for Members policy, protocol and procedures.

11.4 Casual Volunteers

Casual volunteers will be briefed by staff as necessary to enable them to undertake agreed work.

12.0 Human Resource Policy – Personal Conduct

Volunteers have the same responsibilities to the company in respect of their personal conduct as employees. Relevant Policy information is provided for the guidance of staff and volunteers and published in the Human Resource Handbook which is available on request from the Chief Officer. The following policies included in the Handbook apply equally to staff and volunteers:

Section 4:

  • Alcohol and Drugs
  • Confidentiality
  • Declaration of Interest
  • Copyright, Design Rights and Intellectual Property
  • Contact with the Press, Media, Radio and TV
  • Email and Internet Security
  • Fraud

Section 5:

  • Bullying and Harassment
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Whistle Blowing
  • Data Protection
  • Equal Opportunities

13.0 Human Resource Policy – Grievance Issues

Grievance and conduct issues will be resolved by reference to the procedures detailed in the Dispute Resolution Procedure which is attached as Annex 1 to this Code of Conduct.

14.0 Declaring your Personal Interests

The MCofS requires that volunteers who work at Board and Advisory Group level declare any interest that may profit or gain from their involvement in MCofS work. This requirement is covered by our Declaration of Interests Code of Practice. Having a personal interest of this kind does not exclude anyone from volunteering but it is important that such interests are understood by the Board and Advisory Group chairs through a completed Register of Interests form which must be returned to the Chief Officer.

15.0 Health and Safety

The MCofS is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all volunteers on its premises and to giving appropriate instruction, training and supervision for their welfare. Our written health and safety statement and accompanying procedures is available from the Chief Officer.

16.0 Expenses

Volunteers may claim previously agreed out-of-pocket expenses, such as travelling and telephone expenses. Payment of expense claims must be authorised by the Treasurer (for directors), the relevant director (for advisory groups) and will only be reimbursed upon production of a completed and signed expense claim form and receipts. Expense claim forms are available from the MCofS office.

17.0 Media relations

Responsibility for responding to media enquiries, or issuing press statements, rests with the Chief Officer and specialist officers. Any request for information from the media should be referred to the Chief Officer in the first instance.

18.0 Moving on

The MCofS recognises that volunteers may cease their involvement at any time. It is recommended that when a volunteer chooses to cease their links with MCofS that their reasons for leaving are sought, any learning points are shared and it is established whether they might wish to be involved again in the future.

19.0 Conclusion

Volunteers contribute a wealth of skills and experience and the MCofS welcomes and values your support.

David Gibson, Chief Officer

Published 5 June 2013


This document supersedes:

  • The MCofS Volunteering Strategy (approved by the MCofS Executive 12/03/2008)
  • The MCofS Volunteering Code of Practice (approved by the MCofS Executive 27/04/2009)
  • The MCofS Volunteering Code of Practice (approved by the MCofS Board on 11/04/2011)


Annex 1 – Dispute Resolution Procedure

About this procedure: this procedure applies to all volunteers with The Mountaineering Council of Scotland. This procedure is not contractual. It may be amended at any time and we may depart from it or decide not to apply it depending on the circumstances of any case. Most volunteer disputes can be resolved quickly and informally through discussion with the member of MCofS staff you normally volunteer with. If this does not resolve the problem we, or you, should initiate the procedure below reasonably promptly. For the avoidance of doubt, the MCofS may also use this procedure to discuss with you any concerns that may arise during the course of your volunteering.

Step 1: written complaint

You should put your complaint in writing and submit it to the member of MCofS staff you normally volunteer with. If your complaint concerns that person you may submit it to the Chief Officer. The written complaint should set out the nature of the complaint, including any relevant facts, dates, and names of individuals involved so that we can investigate it, if necessary and appropriate. Equally, if we have any concerns we will normally put these in writing to you but are under no obligation to do so.

Step 2: meeting

We will usually arrange a meeting, normally within one week of receiving your written complaint or when we have a concern that we wish to discuss with you. You should make every effort to attend. We may adjourn the meeting if we need to carry out further investigations, after which the meeting will usually be reconvened. We will usually write to you to confirm our decision and notify you of any further action that we intend to take to resolve the complaint or concern.

Step 3: appeals

If the complaint has not been resolved to your satisfaction you may appeal in writing to the Director of People Resources, MCofS The Old Granary, West Mill Street, Perth PH1 5QP stating your full grounds of appeal, within one week of the date on which the decision was sent or given to you.

We may hold an appeal meeting but there is no obligation to do so. If an appeal meeting is organised it will be dealt with impartially by a manager who has not previously been involved in the case. We will confirm our final decision in writing. There is no further right of appeal.