D.5 Staff and Volunteers

The working environment at your organisation should be one where the key human rights principles of fairness, equity, and respect for social and cultural diversity are deeply embedded in your policies, practices and organisational culture. This means that there is agreement between these same principles that underlie your mission and goals for aid and development, and the way you treat your staff and volunteers.

Signatory organisations should have established frameworks that clearly define and protect the rights and safety of staff and volunteers, and that support their duty of care to personnel, both paid and voluntary. This is particularly so given the often insecure and stressful nature of development, humanitarian and emergency management activities.

As a whole, the Standards in Section D.5 encourage the development of policies and procedures that reflect good practice, as well as minimum legal and professional requirements. They recognise that staff and volunteers are key to your organisation being able to fulfil its missions and objectives. And they will help you deliver effective programmes, as good personnel and management practices contribute to greater organisational effectiveness. 

D.5 of the Code of Conduct includes four sets of Standards and respective Principles and Obligations. Standards D.5.1-D.5.4 encourage signatory organisations to ensure the safety and human rights of your staff and volunteers; that the professional conduct of your staff, volunteers and board members is consistent with the Code of Conduct; to commit to training and development; and to apply human rights principles to your own organisations.
 

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D.5.1 Human resources

Principle

Signatory organisations will protect the human rights and safety of personnel, including paid and volunteer staff, working in Australia or overseas.

Obligations

  1. Signatory organisations will meet all minimum legal and regulatory requirements relating to personnel, and will document and maintain policies and procedures that relate to personnel.
  2. Signatory organisations will include in their human resources policies and procedures a statement of unacceptable behaviours expressly including reference to any sexual exploitation or abuse.
  3. Signatory organisations will ensure that all personnel are provided with the relevant induction information pertaining to their rights and safety and that there is ready access to personnel and Occupational Health and Safety policies and procedures.

Why

Your organisation has a duty of care to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of your staff and volunteers before, during and on completion of their period of work.

Your organisation is subject to a range of laws with respect to your staff and volunteers and the ACFID Code of Conduct expects those requirements to drive your human resources policies and practices. Obligations 2 and 3 above, which relate to sexual exploitation or abuse and to safety, are important in the aid and development context.

Values

This standard reflects the Code of Conduct’s commitment to:

  • Accountability to all stakeholders for performance and integrity
  • Respecting, protecting and promoting internationally recognised human rights including civil and political, economic, social and cultural rights.

Practical guidance

Here are some practical suggestions for your organisation to protect the human rights and safety of your staff and volunteers:

Policies and procedures

  • Ensure human resources policies and procedures are in line with the values of your organisation and with employment legislation
  • Set them out in writing, addressing, at a minimum:
    • Recruitment and selection
    • Remuneration and benefits
    • Equity and diversity
    • Staff training and development
    • Performance management
    • Conduct in the workplace
    • Integrity (including confidentiality and conflict of interest)
    • Grievance procedures
    • Occupational Health and Safety
    • Unacceptable behaviours (see list below under ‘Conduct in the workplace’)
  • Regularly monitor and review them according to how well they meet legal and regulatory requirements, organisational and programme aims, and reasonable considerations of effectiveness, fairness and transparency.
  • Familiarise staff with policies and practices that affect them
  • Provide appropriate guidance and training to managers to implement policies effectively. 

Conduct in the workplace

  • All staff have a duty of care to others and should treat each other with courtesy and respect and refrain from harassment or discrimination. However, this is not always simple. Different social and cultural standards may lead to confusion as to what behaviour is acceptable and reasonable.
  • To ensure clarity, develop and document a statement of unacceptable behaviours in your human resources policies and procedures, i.e. behaviour in the workplace that has the potential to create a risk to a staff member's health and safety. Examples of unacceptable behaviour include, but are not limited to:
    • Bullying
    • Emotional, psychological or physical violence or abuse
    • Occupational violence
    • Coercion, harassment and discrimination
    • Aggressive and abusive behaviour
    • Unreasonable demands and undue persistence
    • Disruptive behaviour
    • Aggressive or abusive behaviour such as threatening gestures or actual violence or assault
    • Verbal abuse such as yelling, screaming, abusive or offensive language
    • Being under the influence of illicit drugs or impaired by alcohol
    • Unsafe work practices or behaviour which may harm the staff member or others
    • Bullying, harassment or intimidation
    • Stalking
    • Unwelcome physical contact including that of a sexual, intimate or threatening nature
    • Teasing, name calling, ridicule or making someone the brunt of pranks or practical jokes
    • Withholding approval for or denial of requests maliciously, discriminatorily, unfairly or without basis
    • Excluding or isolating individuals
    • Undermining the performance, reputation or professionalism of others by deliberately withholding information, resources or authorisation, or by supplying incorrect information
    • Malicious or mischievous gossip or complaints
    • Abusive or harassing communication (such as notes, emails, telephone calls and text messages) during or after working hours
    • Belittling opinions or unreasonable and unconstructive criticism
    • Offensive gestures and behaviour
    • Stealing or misuse of organisational resources
    • Viewing inappropriate images or pornography in hard copy or electronically
  • Develop and document a ‘code of conduct’ for staff that addresses how staff and volunteers should treat other staff and volunteer members and outlines unacceptable behaviours.
  • Document a reporting or complaints process to respond to unacceptable behaviour. Such reports need to be taken seriously by your organisation and handled in a confidential, impartial and fair manner, taking into account the principles of impartiality and fairness.
  • You are obliged to take action if you become aware of unacceptable behaviour that may have an adverse affect on the well-being of staff or volunteers. Such action may include disciplinary action. 

Occupational Health and Safety

  • The aim of occupational health and safety (OH&S) is to eliminate or reduce the risk of injuries and illness associated with work.
  • Identify the risks that face staff in Australia and overseas, and develop a policy and procedures to manage these risks. For the system to work effectively, staff need to be aware of, understand and be trained to follow relevant policies and procedures. OH&S policies typically include:
    • Workplace risk assessment
    • Leave arrangements
    • Security arrangements
    • Insurance arrangements
    • Staff care arrangements, such as medical and counselling services
    • Communications protocols
    • Travel and accommodation protocols
    • Accident and incident protocols
    • Emergency protocols
    • Emergency contacts

Overseas staff

  • There are additional occupation health and safety considerations for staff and volunteers working overseas. The People in Aid Standard recognises that the work of relief and development agencies often places great demands on staff in conditions of complexity and risk.
  • Use the People in Aid Standard to guide your policy and procedures. It identifies a range of actions to demonstrate an organisation’s commitment to ensuring the physical and emotional well-being of staff. It recommends:
    • Developing program plans that include a written assessment of security, travel and health risks specific to the relevant country or region, and reviewing them at appropriate intervals
    • Before international assignments, ensure staff receive a health clearance, a verbal and written briefing on all risks relevant to the role and clear advice on agency obligations and individual responsibilities in relation to possible risks
    • Put measures in place to mitigate those risks, including insurance
    • Provide update briefings when new equipment, procedures or risks are identified
    • Regularly review security plans including evacuation procedures
    • Offer all staff a debriefing or exit interview at the end of any contract or assignment
    • Make health checks, personal counselling and careers advice available to overseas staff. 

Humanitarian workers

  • In recognition that humanitarian work is often stressful, the Antares Foundation (see www.antaresfoundation.org) References and Resources) has developed Guidelines for Good Practice which provide practical suggestions for organisations to provide good psychosocial care for its staff. Utilise the Guidelines for Good Practice to guide your policy and procedures. Its recommends you:
    • Develop a written and active policy to prevent or mitigate the effects of stress
    • Systematically screen and/or assess the capacity of staff to respond to and cope with the anticipated stresses of a position or contract
    • Ensure that all staff have appropriate pre-assignment preparation and training in managing stress.
    • Monitor staff response on an ongoing basis
    • Provide training and support on an ongoing basis to help staff deal with daily stress
    • Provide staff with specific and culturally appropriate support in the wake of critical or traumatic incidents and other unusual and unexpected sources of severe stress
    • Provide practical, emotional and culturally appropriate support for staff at the end of an assignment or contract
    • Have clear written policies with respect to the ongoing support it offers staff who have been adversely impacted by exposure to stress and trauma during assignments

Resources

Cross-references to other standards

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D.5.2 Professional Conduct

Principle

Signatory organisations will clearly communicate their expectations that professional conduct of staff, volunteers and members of the governing body will be consistent with the requirements of this Code.

Obligations

  1. Signatory organisations are committed to increasing staff and volunteer awareness and understanding of all the Principles and Obligations of this Code and how it applies to their role and responsibilities within their organisation.
  2. Staff and volunteers of signatory organisations are expected to comply with this Code, and this expectation must be clearly communicated at induction and in ongoing training.

Why

All staff, volunteers and members of the governing body of your organisation should be aware of the requirements of the ACFID Code of Conduct and its relevance to their role within the organisation. As representatives of your organisation, they must be aware that their actions may impact on your compliance with the Code, your reputation and the reputation of the sector.

Values

This standard reflects the Code of Conduct’s commitment to:

  • Accountability to all stakeholders for performance and integrity
  • Honesty and transparency in all dealings
  • Strengthening civil society

Practical Guidance

Here are some practical suggestions for your organisation to ensure your staff, volunteers and board members are aware of and understand the ACFID Code of Conduct, and act accordingly:

  • Require your staff, volunteers and board members to undertake the ACFID ‘Introduction to the Code’. It is available online and can be completed at the users own pace. Include their Certificate of Completion with their individual files.
  • Develop organisational codes of conduct that reflect the core principles and values of the ACFID Code
  • Conduct comprehensive training during induction for staff, volunteers and board members on the ACFID Code and the implications of the Code for their role within the organisation
  • Ensure appropriate policies and procedures, contracts, job descriptions and duty statements reflect the Code’s standards, obligations and values
  • Refer to the Code during performance appraisals 

Resources

Cross-references to other standards

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D.5.3 Training and Development

Principle

Signatory organisations recognise the importance of professional training and development for staff and volunteers and aim to instil a culture of learning into their organisation.

Obligations

  1. Signatory organisations’ personnel policy and procedures will clearly set out the organisations’ commitment to training and development.
  2. Signatory organisations will ensure their staff and volunteers and are aware of the rights of people with a disability and those from vulnerable and marginalised groups and are provided with training on these issues, as appropriate and desirable.

Why

Training, development and learning opportunities for your organisation’s staff and volunteers contribute to the ongoing improvement and professionalisation of the aid and development sector as a whole.

Values

This standard reflects the Code of Conduct’s commitment to:

  • Active learning, innovating and continuously improving aid and development work
  • Strengthening civil society

Practical Guidance

Here are some practical suggestions for your organisation to instil a culture of learning and strengthen professional training and development:

A culture of learning

Instil a culture of learning through your recruitment, planning, monitoring and review processes, by: 

  • Including in personnel policies the availability of training, development and learning opportunities, and making staff and volunteers aware of them
  • Developing and establishing robust recruitment, selection and induction processes that emphasise learning
  • Including learning opportunities and discussion in a range of areas such as:
    • Team planning
    • Performance management
    • Program monitoring
    • Evaluation frameworks and activities
  • Including explicit provision for training in plans and budgets
  • Offering internal and external formal training opportunities
  • Providing mentoring, coaching and peer support of staff, volunteers or governing body members
  • Granting opportunities for staff and volunteers to build skills ‘on the job’ by working in different areas and roles
  • Using formal organisational reflection processes such as organisational strategic planning and review
  • Reporting learnings to key stakeholders

Individual learning

  • Supporting the growth and development of your individual employees and volunteers can be done within both large and small signatory organisations. You are obliged to provide adequate resources and an environment for this to take place.
  • It is well established that a learning approach that blends different methods, and targets individual learning styles will lead to the best outcomes. Specific training and development activities should be offered to your employees and volunteers at all points of their engagement
  • Develop clear job descriptions that are the foundation upon which training and development activities are built
  • Implement a structured orientation and induction process for all employees, volunteers and governing body members
  • Provide training so staff and volunteers can meet the basic competencies for the role
  • Provide mentoring, coaching, and peer support
  • Identify the knowledge, skills and abilities that your organisation will need in the future
  • Conduct regular performance reviews
  • Align individual development plans to work outcomes and career development

 

Training

  • The group of Principles found in Section B of the ACFID Code of Conduct underpin aid and development effectiveness, and are essential to the credibility of the aid and development sector. Your organisation is required to provide training and learning opportunities as appropriate to ensure that your staff, volunteers and governing body members have a sound knowledge of these principles and are able to apply them appropriately to their roles.
  • Learning, training and development opportunities should be provided in the areas of:
    • Accountability
    • Partnership
    • Project cycle management
    • Monitoring and evaluation
    • Gender
    • Disability
    • Inclusive practice
    • Environmental sustainability
    • Human rights
    • Child protection
    • Advocacy
    • Emergency management

Resources

Cross-references to other standards

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D.5.4 Human rights and anti discrimination

Principle

Signatory organisations will apply human rights principles to their own organisations.

Obligations

  1. Signatory organisations will make their commitment to human rights and anti-discrimination in employment and advancement clear in the organisation’s key documents.
  2. Signatory organisations will engage staff and volunteers within a framework that actively promotes human rights and avoids discrimination, in a way that supports the organisation’s identity, philosophy and values and meets the statutory obligations of any anti-discrimination legislation.
  3. Signatory organisations will have comprehensive gender equity policies and disability guidelines in place that aim to produce equitable outcomes between women and men, and people with a disability, in all activities of the organisation, including:
    1. Engagement of volunteers and staff;
    2. Engagement of partner agencies;
    3. Senior management and governance.

Why

It is important that human rights principles are embedded into your organisation’s systems and culture. A formal commitment to human rights and anti-discrimination provides the framework for common understanding, practice and accountability across your organisation.

Values

This standard reflects the Code of Conduct’s commitment to respecting, protecting and promoting internationally recognised human rights.

Practical guidance

Here are some practical suggestions for ensuring your organisation is applying human rights principles within its own operations:

  • Provide a work environment that fosters fairness, equity, and respect for social and cultural diversity, and one that is free from unlawful discrimination, harassment and vilification.
  • Embed human rights principles in the vision, purpose and values of your organisational charter, related objectives in your strategic plan and your human resources policies
  • Develop a policy statement regarding unacceptable conduct in the workplace
  • Conduct recruitment and selection processes that promote equity and diversity
  • Train managers and staff on human rights in the workplace
  • Actively address barriers to hiring and progression in employment to promote diversity and equity
  • Promote practices to build trust between managers, staff and volunteers
  • Ensure that staff and volunteers are aware of their rights and their responsibilities
  • Create and implement a confidential complaints or grievances processes
  • Regularly review employment legislation

Gender equity and disability

  • While this standard intends to address all forms of human rights and discrimination, particular forms of discrimination will require more attention depending on context. Gender equity and disability have been highlighted as areas of particular focus for the aid and development sector. Policies and guidelines can address inequities faced by women and people with a disability, aiming to achieve fairness and justice and to reduce barriers to participation in and receiving the benefits of aid and development activities. Examples of these include:
  • Provide flexible work hours for carers of children
  • Consider subsidising child care costs
  • Provide all necessary support and services to staff, board members and volunteers with a disability
  • Make a statement of commitment to achieving gender balance in delegations, boards and other decision-making bodies

Resources

Cross-references to other standards

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