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Volunteering code of practice & dispute resolution procedure

The Board approved the adoption of this policy on 19 January 2017

The purpose of this Code of Practice is to provide volunteers with a set of basic guidelines and general expectations concerning their work for Mountaineering Scotland. Reference is made to relevant policies and procedures which have been approved by the Mountaineering Scotland Board and which are relevant to volunteers. Copies of these documents are available from the CEO.

Volunteers support and sometimes guide the work of 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 Mountaineering Scotland and their contribution is often critical to how stakeholders, the public and members perceive Mountaineering Scotland and its work.  

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

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

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 Mountaineering Scotland 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.

However, whilst there are no legal agreements or contracts in place with our volunteers, Mountaineering Scotland does require commitment and adherence to its Policies relating to Equality and Safeguarding Children.

There are four types of volunteer

4.1  Elected members

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

4.2  Advisory and Working Group membership

Mountaineering Scotland may convene advisory groups which inform and support the work of officers. Each advisory group will have 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 may be established with the approval of the Board to support staff through the implementation of a specific project, led by a member with specific expertise in the relevant field.

4.3  Membersí Event volunteers

Event volunteers may be un-qualified but active, experienced participants, or qualified to appropriate National Standards. National Standards are the National Awards in outdoor education recognised by Mountaineering Scotland 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 Mountaineering Scotland on an ad-hoc basis. Examples may include office duties, research, film festivals and other events, etc.

  • To match Mountaineering Scotlandís needs with the skills, knowledge, experience and motivation of the volunteer.
  • To recognise that successful volunteer involvement incorporates the individualís 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 Mountaineering Scotlandís 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. Where necessary complaints will be dealt with using the Mountaineering Scotland Complaints Policy.
  • 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.

  • To promote, maintain and uphold the reputation of Mountaineering Scotland at all times. Avoid tweeting, blogging or otherwise publishing any information or material that could risk bringing you or Mountaineering Scotland into disrepute.  
  • To co-operate with staff and operate to relevant policies, 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 Mountaineering Scotland 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 agree to be bound by, sign and implement the Mountaineering Scotland Equality Policy.
  • To understand and implement Mountaineering Scotland policies and procedures relevant to Safeguarding Children when you are involved in childrenís events, competitions and courses.
  • To accept that the ultimate responsibility for Mountaineering Scotlandís 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 Mountaineering Scotlandís staff or the CEO if any prohibited substances are being used.

All volunteers should be paid-up members of Mountaineering Scotland, or a member of a Club Member who is currently registered with Mountaineering Scotland. 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 CEO consider that the volunteerís specific skills will be of benefit to Mountaineering Scotland.

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

Mountaineering Scotland does not specify an upper age limit and recognises the valuable contribution made by all volunteers in terms of knowledge and experience. Mountaineering Scotland has a minimum volunteering age of 18 years for all roles, with the exception of 14 years for kidís club members assisting at climbing events.

The requirement for specific volunteer skills or resources will usually be brought to the attention of the CEO or a specialist officer, who will take steps to advertise the vacancy through the magazine, vacancy notice on the website and Membersí Bulletins.

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.

The Mountaineering Scotland Boardís policy relating to risk is that it is risk averse and it takes its approach to risk seriously. As such, all paid up members of Mountaineering Scotland are covered by Combined 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 officersí negligence to a limit of £10m per incident.

In respect of climbing activities, Mountaineering Scotland will engage volunteers who are paid up members, non-members who act as belayers and who have attended a refresher session and are registered as such, or who have their own professional liability insurance covering their involvement in Mountaineering Scotland activities. Mountaineering Scotlandís Team Leader: ClimbScotland, Sport Development Officer and Mountain Safety Advisor are responsible for ensuring that either paid up membership or relevant professional liability insurance cover are current when a volunteer is engaged on an event.

The Combined Liability Insurance does not provide Personal Accident Cover, and Mountaineering Scotland 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 30p 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 CEO.

Volunteers must report any accident / incident occurring in Mountaineering Scotlandís office to the CEO.

Incidents occurring outside of the office environment which may result in a claim of negligence against the volunteer or Mountaineering Scotland must be reported immediately to the CEO and Mountaineering Scotland insurers, using the agreed incident notification guidelines which are detailed in the Mountaineering Scotland Insurance Centre. Under no circumstances should admission of liability be given by the volunteer to anyone making related enquiries.

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 CEO.

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

Mountaineering Scotlandís Team Leader: ClimbScotland, Sport Development Officer, Regional Developments Officers and Mountain Safety Advisor are responsible for briefing event volunteers and for ensuring that all event participants are aware of and comply fully with relevant policies and procedures, including those related to membership, safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, anti-doping, equality, and the Events Code of Conduct, where relevant.

11.4  Casual Volunteers

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

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 CEO.

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

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.

Mountaineering Scotland requires that volunteers who work at Board and Advisory Group level declare any interest that may profit or gain from their involvement in Mountaineering Scotlandís 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 CEO.

Mountaineering Scotland 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 CEO.

Volunteers may claim previously agreed out-of-pocket expenses, such as travelling and telephone expenses. Payment of expense claims must be authorised by the CEO and Treasurer and will only be reimbursed upon production of a completed and signed expense claim form and receipts. Expense claim forms are available from Mountaineering Scotland office.

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

Mountaineering Scotland recognises that volunteers may cease their involvement at any time. It is recommended that when a volunteer chooses to cease their links with Mountaineering Scotland 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.

Volunteers contribute a wealth of skills and experience and Mountaineering Scotland welcomes and values your support.

This Code of Practice is in force from 3 February 2017 and shall be reviewed every three years, with the next review taking place on 3 February 2020.

David Gibson


Mountaineering Scotland

The Granary

West Mill Street

Perth PH1 5QP

About this procedure: this procedure applies to all volunteers with Mountaineering 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. In cases of serious dispute the CEO may decide to investigate matters using the Mountaineering Scotland Complaints Policy.

Most volunteer disputes can be resolved quickly and informally through discussion with the member of Mountaineering Scotland 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, Mountaineering Scotland may also use this procedure to discuss with you any concerns that may arise during the course of your volunteering.

Step 1: written notification

You should put the issue you wish to raise in writing and submit it to the member of Mountaineering Scotland staff you normally volunteer with. If that issue concerns that person you may submit it to the CEO.

The written notification should set out the nature of the issue you wish to raise, 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 we are under no obligation to do so.

Step 2: meeting

We will usually arrange a meeting, normally within one week of receiving your written notification 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 contact you as soon as possible to confirm our decision and notify you of any further action that we intend to take to resolve the issue.

Step 3: appeals

If the issue has not been resolved to your satisfaction you may appeal in writing to the CEO at The 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. 

Alternatively you may decide to make a formal complaint. You must put this in writing, restating the issue which is the cause of your dispute and referring to why you believe the findings of the Dispute Resolution Procedure require investigation.

Your complaint will be dealt with by reference to the Mountaineering Scotland Complaints Policy and Procedure.