Volunteering Leave RIP?

When an employee is dismissed they face a decision whether they should appeal against their dismissal using internal appeal mechanisms or apply directly to an Employment Tribunal.

Back in April 2015, whilst in full electioneering mode, the Conservative Party made a commitment that if elected they would introduce a right for all public sector and all employees of companies employing at least 250 employees to have three days paid leave to complete volunteering.

Interestingly, despite not being an especially thought out proposal the Conservatives were explicit that any union member who wanted to volunteer to their trade union, the biggest membership organisations in the UK, would be expressly excluded from this right to paid leave.

This was not just a vague aspiration but was given a central place in the Conservative’s manifesto (see page 45). Keen observers, like HR Bullet’s Craig Gordon, noticed that fresh from the election there was a silence about the commitment in the Queen’s Speech which is arguably inconsistent with a firm commitment to deliver this new right.

The Financial Times has also picked up on the complete absence of any intent within the Tory party to deliver on its commitment in the first legislative session of Parliament. The FT report last month indicated that its sources indicate that within two months of trumpeting the idea the government had already performed its first U-turn and dropped it:

You are right in thinking they are going to forget about that one,” said the government figure. “It has not been mentioned [since the election] and there are no plans in the pipeline for a consultation.

Of course, the explicit exclusion of any trade union activities (which could include helping learners develop new skills, helping navigate the benefit system, running a credit union etc) was a cynical ploy. Nevertheless, any moves to encourage voluntary action is still surely a social good so we should regret the hasty way the project appears to have been dropped after voters have placed their votes – I would hope that the political cynicism of the trade union exclusion does not mean trade unions themselves do not continue to lobby the government to make good on its commitment to the public.

Adivihalli v Export Credits Guarantee Department [1998] UKEAT 917_97_2703

Advertisements