Volunteering Victoria position statement. about. Work for the Dole

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1 Volunteering Victoria position statement about Work for the Dole Background In July 2014, Work for the Dole (WFTD) commenced for eligible job seekers aged 18 to 30 in four selected areas across Victoria (Westgate, Goulburn Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Geelong). The program will be phased in over coming months, in preparation for national implementation from 1 July Further information about WFTD is provided at Attachment A. Many not-for-profit organisations (NFPs) are considering whether they will participate in WFTD and provide places to job seekers. At first glance, WFTD may seem like a win /win in theory NFPs will gain additional workers to help deliver much-needed services to the community, and job seekers will gain work skills and experience to help them find a paid job. However, the reality is more complex. WFTD is different to traditional volunteering programs and (non-mandatory) mutual obligation arrangements. There is also some debate about the outcomes for jobseekers. As a result, NFPs need to carefully assess all the pros and cons before agreeing to participate in WFTD. This position paper is intended to assist NFPS with their decision-making. Volunteering Victoria s position Volunteering Victoria s position about WFTD is: 1. NFPs are not obliged to participate in WFTD Currently, 1 it is up to NFPs to decide whether or not they wish to participate in WFTD and provide places to job seekers. WFTD Coordinators and Job Services Australia providers (JSAs) may try to persuade NFPs to participate but NFPs are not obliged to do so. Given that the implementation of the WFTD program depends on NFPs agreeing to provide many thousands of places, we believe that NFPs have considerable bargaining power in this negotiation process. 1 At this stage, we are not aware of any legislative requirements, contractual obligations or government directives that oblige NFPs to participate in WFTD. 1 P a g e

2 2. WFTD is problematic under the current definition of volunteering We recommend that NFPs comply with the current Volunteering Australia Definition and Principles of Volunteering. WFTD is problematic under this definition, in particular: the definition that volunteering is an activity undertaken of the volunteer s own free will and without coercion, and done for no financial gain. the principle that volunteering is always a matter of choice, and is an activity that is not undertaken for the receipt of a government allowance. Compliance with the definition is not mandatory but is broadly accepted as best practice by volunteering stakeholders across Australia. Further information is available at: A National Review of the Definition of Volunteering was launched in May 2014, led by Volunteering Tasmania on behalf of Volunteering Australia. Volunteering Victoria and the Victorian Volunteer Support Network represent Victoria on the National Steering Committee. The review will consider a range of issues including WFTD and (non-mandatory) mutual obligation arrangements. An Issues Paper is expected by early 2015 and a revised definition by mid We recommend not calling it volunteering WFTD is different to traditional volunteering programs and (non-mandatory) mutual obligation arrangements. To avoid confusion when thinking or speaking about WFTD and to avoid damaging the volunteering brand, we recommend not calling WFTD placements volunteering and not calling WFTD job seekers volunteers. 4. We acknowledge it is a strategic business decision We know that many NFPs are concerned about unemployment rates in their communities and some NFPs see supporting job seekers as part of their mission. We also know that many NFPs need to reduce costs due to funding constraints but also want to provide more services to meet the increasing level o need in their communities. We acknowledge that NFPs are entitled to make a strategic business decision about whether they will participate in WFTD and provide places to jobseekers. However, before making a final decision, we suggest that NFPs should carefully consider the following recommendations and the checklist of issues provided at Attachment B: 2 P a g e

3 5. We recommend considering whether WFTD is compatible with your mission, values and strategic priorities We recommend that you carefully consider whether participating in WFTD is compatible with your organisation s mission, values and strategic priorities. Some issues to consider include: Is providing WFTD places compatible with our mission? Is the mandatory nature of WFTD consistent with our values? What are the benefits for us of participating in WFTD? Will the WFTD job roles assist us to meet our strategic priorities? Will WFTD be a distraction from our core purpose? Will participating in WFTD damage our brand? 6. We recommend considering the outcomes for job seekers We know that there are a range of benefits from traditional volunteering. However, we cannot assume that mandatory WFTD places will produce the same results for jobseekers. Volunteering Victoria is aware that there is some debate about the effectiveness of WFTD. For example, this recent news article: Before deciding to participate, we recommend that NFPs investigate and consider the evidence about WFTD outcomes for jobseekers. Some NFPs may decide that they cannot meet all the criteria required to ensure positive outcomes for job seekers. Others may decide there are better ways that they could support job seekers in their communities. 7. We recommend clarifying what you would be required to do As WFTD is still in the early stages of implementation, there is uncertainty about exactly what NFPs will be required to do when they provide WFTD places. We suggest that you discuss this with the WFTD Coordinators and JSAs in your region before deciding to participate. Some of the key issues that may need to be clarified include: type and length of suitable job roles responsibility for recruitment and screening responsibility for training and other support responsibility for health and safety supervision and performance management of job seekers refusing or terminating a job seeker insurance and liability if things go wrong 3 P a g e

4 record-keeping, reporting and privacy requirements contractual terms payment. A detailed checklist of issues for you to consider is provided at Attachment B. 8. We recommend considering the resourcing needed for management time and other costs WFTD is not free. Providing these places may require significant resources from NFPs, in terms of management time and other support costs. We suggest that as far as practicable, job seekers should receive the same high standard of management and support as traditional volunteers. However, additional management and support may also be needed to meet specific WFTD requirements (as discussed above) or because the unique nature of WFTD presents different challenges. For example, given that WFTD is mandatory NFPs may need to deal with job seekers who: are unwilling or non-compliant may not be job-ready or may not have appropriate job skills may have additional disadvantage and need additional support (e.g. due to language or literacy, disability, mental health, or drug and alcohol issues). Before deciding to participate in WFTD, we recommend consideration of the resourcing needed to provide appropriate management and support to job seekers. Some costs to calculate include: employing a program manager conducting recruitment, screening and induction providing training and other support meeting health and safety requirements providing appropriate supervision and quality assurance office overheads meeting record-keeping and reporting requirements reimbursing job seekers for out-of-pocket expenses. Please note that each place could be filled by a number of different job seekers (e.g. if a job seeker does not stay the full six months because they get a paid job), which would increase some of the above costs. You might also consider whether impending changes to federal funding for the volunteering sector may affect your ability to resource WFTD places in future (e.g. what if Volunteering Victoria and your local Volunteer Resource Centre are no longer funded to provide information and support to NFPs?) 4 P a g e

5 9. We recommend negotiating hard with JSAs about payment We understand that JSAs will be paid fees by the Government of: $600 per individual place and $2,100 per place in a group project (maximum of 15 per group) (during ) $1000 per individual place and $3,500 per place in a group project for 25-hour per week places and pro-rata for 15-hour per week places (after 1 July 2015). Please note that each place could be filled by a number of different job seekers (e.g. if a job seeker does not stay the full six months because they get a paid job), but the fee is only paid once. We understand that NFPs can negotiate with JSAs for a portion of this fee, to cover some of the costs discussed above. However, there is uncertainty about how much (if any) will be paid, when it will be paid and what it will be paid for. There is also a time-cost for NFPs in conducting the negotiation process. As discussed earlier, we believe that NFPs have considerable bargaining power because they are critical to the implementation of WFTD. We recommend that you shop around for a JSA who is willing to negotiate, and then negotiate hard to get a fair share of the JSA fees. Depending on the outcome, you may decide that you cannot afford the net cost of participating in WFTD. 10. We recommend considering the impact on relationships with staff, volunteers, clients and other stakeholders Before deciding to participate in WFTD, we recommend that NFPs carefully consider how this might affect relationships with staff, traditional volunteers, clients and other stakeholders. We also recommend that NFPs consult appropriately with all relevant stakeholders. Some issues to consider include: What impact will it have on the morale of staff and traditional volunteers? For example: o Do you have enough suitable tasks/roles to ensure that staff and volunteers will not be displaced by job seekers? o Will existing staff and volunteers be willing to work with job seekers if they perceive them as being exploited or alternatively, as a threat to their roles? o Will staff and volunteers be properly resourced to train and supervise job seekers or will they see them as extra work? What impact will WFTD placements have on clients? For example: o Will high turnover of job seekers affect reliability or continuity of service for clients? o Will clients perceive they are receiving a second-rate service if job seekers perform these tasks/roles? 5 P a g e

6 How will other key stakeholders react (e.g. funders, donors, partner organisations, and the media)? o Might they want to distance themselves from WFTD? o Might there be bad publicity? 11. We recommend considering risk management issues NFPs have legal and ethical responsibilities to protect clients, staff, volunteers and others from harm. The nature and extent of risks, and the strategies for addressing them may be different when roles are performed by WFTD job seekers, rather than by paid staff, traditional volunteers, or Centrelink recipients under (non-mandatory) mutual obligation arrangements. We recommend that NFPs consider the following risk management issues that are specific to WFTD: Liability it is unclear who is legally responsible if a job seeker hurts themselves or someone else. It is also unclear whether the protections for traditional volunteers in the Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic) also apply to job seekers. Insurance we understand that the Government has obtained insurance to cover WFTD. However, we have not yet seen the policy so we do not know exactly who is covered, when they are covered, what they are covered for, and what is excluded. Privacy it is unclear whether NFPs are permitted (or obliged) to share information about job seekers with WFTD Coordinators, JSAs and Centrelink. It is also unclear whether Privacy and Freedom of Information legislation applies. Employment relationship the line between paid employee and traditional volunteer can sometimes be unclear, and similar issues also arise for WFTD job seekers. The legal consequences of creating an employment relationship can be significant. Further information is available on the Justice Connect website at Prohibited roles we understand that job seekers are prohibited from some roles, including providing direct care to vulnerable clients (e.g. children, people with disabilities and the elderly) and supervisory roles. Driving roles are only permitted where the job seeker has the appropriate licence, appropriate insurance is in place and the job seeker is not using their own vehicle. It is unclear whether there are any other prohibited roles and what happens if job seekers perform these roles. We also recommend that NFPs consider the following general risk management issues: health and safety of job seekers qualifications and training of job seekers money handling by job seekers police checks and Working with Children Checks dealing with conflict and complaints about job seekers preventing bullying and sexual harassment of job seekers. Further information is available on our website at 6 P a g e

7 Inquiries about this position statement should be directed to: Tonye Segbedzi Senior Policy Officer About Volunteering Victoria Volunteering Victoria is the state peak body for volunteering. We provide support to volunteers and not for profits, and represent the interests of volunteering in Victoria. Level 2/491 King Street West Melbourne VIC Ph Fax ABN Volunteering Victoria is endorsed as a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) 7 P a g e

8 ATTACHMENT A: Information about Work for the Dole Work for the Dole From 1 July 2014 the new WFTD scheme will be phased in, commencing in selected areas across Australia. In Victoria, the selected areas are: Westgate (Hobsons Bay, Wyndham, Melton, Brimbank, Maribyrnong, Moonee Valley) Goulburn Valley Mornington Peninsula Geelong. The expected number of places for each area is still being determined. Job seekers aged 18 to under 30 years in the selected areas who are registered with a Job Services Australia (JSA) provider and who have a Work Experience Activity Requirement will be required to participate. WFTD is not mandatory for other job seekers but they can also choose to participate. WFTD participants will be required to work 12 to 15 hours per week for six months each year (unless they gain employment). Emphasis will be on continuous participation for six months, although multiple shorter placements may be possible. Participants may receive an additional payment of up to $20.80 per fortnight to help with the costs of taking part in WFTD. If they fail to comply with the WFTD requirements, they will have their dole payments reduced or stopped. WFTD activities are intended to benefit job seekers by: developing on-the-job skills demonstrating abilities to potential employers obtaining references from work experience employers making new work contacts taking part in training staying connected to the workforce. WFTD activities can include working at NFP organisations or government agencies (federal, state or local). Places will not be offered in private sector for-profit businesses, and must not involve tasks that would normally be done by a paid employee (including a part-time or casual employee). There is a preference for job seekers to participate in individual places in real work-like roles. We understand that job seekers are prohibited from some roles, including providing direct care to vulnerable clients (e.g. children, people with disabilities and the elderly) and supervisory roles. Driving roles are only permitted where the job seeker has the appropriate licence, appropriate insurance is in place and the job seeker is not using their own vehicle. 8 P a g e

9 Examples of suitable WFTD roles include: retail work in not-for-profit stores such as those operated by major charity organisations providing additional assistance in the administration areas of eligible organisations gardening or maintenance activities in schools or aged care facilities. However, no direct care, teaching or direct supervision roles will be allowed rehabilitation works of public parks and roadways restoration of community facilities. JSAs will be paid fees of $600 per individual place and $2,100 per place in a group project (maximum 15 per group). Arrangements for each place (including fee-sharing) will be settled between the host organisation and the relevant JSA, who will be responsible for referring eligible job seekers. JSAs will continue to service the job seeker during their placement and liaise with the host organisation on a regular basis. Host organisations are expected to provide work-like activities, induction, training and supervision. They can negotiate with the JSA to cover some reasonable costs incurred as a result of providing the place. A Supervisor Mobile App has been designed to assist hosts to track the attendance of job seekers and will be rolled out from November Hosts may provide places that are outside the selected WFTD locations, depending on travel distances and transport options. WFTD Co-ordinators were appointed in August 2014 in the selected areas. They are expected to work with JSAs and potential host organisations to help identify suitable WFTD places. Further information is available at National Employment Services System 2015 A new National Employment Services System will commence from 1 July 2015 across all geographical areas and age groups. New WFTD Coordinators and JSAs will be appointed to implement this. Under the new system, most job seekers who have mutual obligation requirements will be required to: complete WFTD for 25 hours per week for six months each year if they are aged under 30 years complete WFTD for 15 hours per week for six months each year if they are aged years complete an approved activity for 15 hours per week for six months each year if they are aged years. JSAs will be paid fees of $1000 per individual place and $3,500 per place in a group project (for 25-hour per week places and pro-rata for 15-hour per week places). Our understanding is that tens of thousands of places are expected across Australia under this system. Further information is available at 9 P a g e

10 ATTACHMENT B: Checklist of issues for Not-for-Profits to consider Compatibility with mission, values and strategic priorities Is providing WFTD places compatible with our mission? Is the mandatory nature of WFTD consistent with our values? What are the benefits for us in participating in WFTD? Will the WFTD job roles assist us to meet our strategic priorities? Will WFTD be a distraction from our core purpose? Will participating in WFTD damage our brand? Considering outcomes for job seekers What should we be doing to support job seekers? What is does the evidence say about WFTD outcomes for jobseekers (e.g. will it help them to get a job?) What other benefits does it provide to job seekers? Can we provide the type of role and support that the evidence suggests is needed to obtain positive outcomes for job seekers? Are there are better ways that we could support job seekers in our community? Clarifying what host NFPs are required to do Job roles We understand that we will initially discuss the proposed place with the WFTD Coordinator. Can we please have a copy of the template WFTD proposal form so we can see what will and won t be covered? What type of tasks/roles are suitable for WFTD places? Are there any guidelines about this? Is there a job description template for us to follow? What tasks/roles are prohibited under WFTD? Is it feasible for the job seeker to do this role for 12 to 15 hours per week for 6 months (or 25 hours per week after 1 July 2015)? Is there any flexibility to offer roles with less hours or shorter placements? Will this role provide all the intended benefits for job seekers (see page 8)? Is this WFTD place replacing a paid staff position (and how will the Government monitor this)? Is this WFTD place displacing a traditional volunteer position? Screening checks Who is responsible for recruitment and screening? If JSAs are responsible, what kind of criminal record checking will they do? What offences do they check for? Who pays for the checks? 10 P a g e

11 Have the privacy issues been worked out? Did the JSA s get the participants consent to hand these checks to us? If we are responsible, will the JSA pay us for any recruitment or screening costs? Do we have the final say on suitability of job seekers with a criminal history? Training and other support Will the job seekers be job-ready and have the relevant job skills for this role? Can we refuse to take them if they are not? Who is responsible for providing training and other relevant support? If we are responsible, will the JSA pay us for any training or support? How will we support job seekers who have additional disadvantage and need additional support (e.g. due to language or literacy, disability, mental health, or drug and alcohol issues)? Health and safety Who is responsible for safety of the WFTD place? Will the JSA do the initial safety assessment or do we have to do it? Will the JSA pay us for providing health and safety training and/or equipment? Supervision Who can supervise job seekers in individual places (paid staff only or traditional volunteers too)? We understand there is a required ratio of one paid supervisor to 15 job seekers for group projects. Is there a similar ratio for individual places? Will the JSA pay us to employ a supervisor for individual places and/or group projects? Is there any training available for our supervisors in dealing with the management and support needs of job seekers? Refusal and termination Do we have the right to refuse to take on a job seeker that the JSA has referred to us? What role are we expected to pay in dealing with unwilling, difficult or non-compliant job seekers? What happens if the job seeker is not working out in a role? Can we terminate the job seeker? What consequences would this have for the job seeker? Do discrimination laws apply to this kind of refusal / termination? Could the job seeker make a claim of discrimination, say on the basis of race or disability? Is this a provision of a service and therefore covered by anti-discrimination law? Contracts When we agree to provide a WFTD place, we understand we will be expected to sign an agreement with the JSA. Can we please have a copy of the template agreement so we can see what will and won t be covered? How is it made clear that the WFTD placement is not an employment relationship? (i.e. that we will not owe the participant annual leave, long service leave, superannuation etc.) If a job seeker works over the 15 hours per week requirement, are they still a WFTD participant for that extra time? Or is that extra work being done as a traditional volunteer / casual employee? 11 P a g e

12 What resourcing is needed? What resources are needed to provide the same standard of management and support as we give to traditional volunteers? What additional resources may be needed to meet specific WFTD requirements? What additional resources may be needed because the unique nature of WFTD presents different challenges? For example, dealing with job seekers who are: o are unwilling or non-compliant o may not be job-ready or may not have appropriate job skills o may have additional disadvantage and need additional support (e.g. due to language or literacy, disability, mental health, or drug and alcohol issues). What will it cost us to: o employ a WFTD program manager o conduct recruitment, screening and induction o provide training and other support o meet health and safety requirements o provide appropriate supervision and quality assurance o for office overheads o meet record-keeping and reporting requirements o reimburse job seekers for out-of-pocket expenses? What will it cost us if each place is filled by a number of different job seekers (e.g. if a job seeker does not stay the full six months because they get a paid job)? What difference might it make if Volunteering Victoria and our local Volunteer Resource Centre are no longer funded to provide information and support to us? Negotiating with JSAs Is this JSA willing to negotiate with us about payment of fees? If not, can we shop around for another JSA who is? Is there a process for requesting fees? For example, are we required to develop a budget to say why we need the fees and how we will spend them on the place? What is the time-cost for us in negotiating fees with JSAs? How much (if any) will we paid? When will it be paid? What will it be paid for? At what point do we become entitled to the agreed fee? For example, if we do all the work to develop a place and co-ordinate a supervisor, and do all the interviewing, screening and induction of the job seeker and then the job seeker leaves to take up a paid job, do we still get the fee? Are we required to submit evidence to justify payment? If so, what evidence? Will the JSA pass on a fair share of the fee? If not, can we afford the net cost of participating in WFTD? How will disputes with the JSA be handled? 12 P a g e

13 Impact on relationships with staff, volunteers, client and other stakeholders What impact will WFTD have on the morale of our staff and traditional volunteers? For example: o Do we have enough suitable tasks/roles to ensure that staff and volunteers will not be displaced by job seekers? o Will existing staff and volunteers be willing to work with job seekers if they perceive them as being exploited or alternatively, as a threat to their roles? o Will staff and volunteers be properly resourced to train and supervise job seekers or will they see them as extra work? What impact will WFTD placements have on our clients? For example: o Will high turnover of job seekers affect reliability or continuity of service for clients? o Will clients perceive they are receiving a second-rate service if job seekers perform these tasks/roles? How will other key stakeholders react (e.g. funders, donors, partner organisations, and the media)? o Might they want to distance themselves from WFTD? o Might there be bad publicity? Risk management issues Liability if something goes wrong Who is legally responsible if a job seeker hurts themselves (e.g. cuts finger off in the kitchen) is it the Government, the JSA or us? Who is legally responsible if a job seeker hurts someone else (e.g. accidently drops a charity box on a member of the public) is it the Government, the JSA or us? Do the volunteer protections in the Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic) apply to job seekers (the provisions say that where a volunteer is acting in accordance with their authorised duties they will not be legally responsible for damage done to a third party)? Insurance Who is responsible for arranging insurance for WFTD places? If it is Government or JSA insurance, what are the key conditions and exclusions of the insurance? Does it provide cover if the job seeker is injured? Does it provide cover if the job seeker injures someone else? Does it cover the job seeker for any incidents that may occur in their travel to and from the placement? Can we please have a template copy of the insurance terms so we can see exactly what will and won t be covered? If it is (partly or wholly) our insurance, have we checked with our insurers to see if they will cover job seekers? If a job seeker does extra work (over and above the 15 hours required) whose insurance covers the job seeker for that extra work? 13 P a g e

14 Reporting and privacy What information are we entitled to receive about the job seeker? What kind of records are we required to keep about the job seeker? How does the Supervisor Mobile App assist us to track the real-time attendance of job seekers? Are we obliged to use it? Are we required to report on anything other than attendance? What are the consequences for the job seeker of this reporting? Does privacy legislation or freedom of information legislation apply to this information? Employing a WFD participant If we subsequently go on to employ a WFTD job seeker, when does the period of service start for the purpose of calculating long service leave, unfair dismissal periods, superannuation payments etc.? We have heard that from 1 July 2015, there is a fee of $6,500 payable if we hire a young job seeker fresh from their WFTD placement. Is that correct? What criteria must we meet to be eligible for the fee? General risk management issues: health and safety of job seekers qualifications and training of job seekers money handling by job seekers police checks and Working with Children Checks dealing with conflict and complaints about job seekers preventing bullying and sexual harassment of job seekers. 14 P a g e

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