People who have been put on furlough amid the coronavirus crisis will be asked to put themselves forward to volunteer in the civil service in order to support the government’s efforts to tackle the pandemic.
The Cabinet Office has published guidance for employers on how furloughed workers can volunteer for posts in the civil service as the Covid-19 outbreak puts departments and public services under pressure.
The Industry Partnering Voluntary Scheme, announced yesterday, will be open to people working for private companies whose jobs have been put on hold because of the pandemic.
The scheme has been put in place to support the civil service as coronavirus has strained departments’ capacity, with some staff ill or unable to carry out their jobs because of government measures put in place to control the virus.
“This, alongside the extensive additional demand on public services, means that at this time of national crisis there are some important civil service resourcing gaps,” the guidance, published yesterday, says.
Placements will be agreed between government departments, volunteers and their employers, and departments will seek to match volunteers to roles based on their business needs, according to guidance.
The Cabinet Office will oversee the scheme and provide extra support to employers and departments “as needed”.
“It is anticipated to be a short term scheme which commenced in early April 2020 and will continue as long as there is departmental demand and volunteers identified through industry partners to assist in the delivery of critical public sector services,” the document said.
“Due to the uncertainty around Covid-19 and its impact upon the UK, the process of working with industry partners through to matching volunteers is intended to be relatively swift."
Volunteers on the scheme will continue to receive their usual salary or furlough payment from their employer, and will stay on the same terms and conditions of their usual employment. Departments will cover any expenses according to their usual reimbursement policies.
Most of the voluntary work will be carried out from home.
Volunteers can specify the number of hours they wish to work for the department, according to the guidance.
Employers that are interested in taking part in the scheme have been asked to contact the Cabinet Office via email on IPSchemeGeneralEnquiries@cabinetoffice.gov.uk.
According to the Cabinet Office, there is “strong support” for the scheme among employers, which are keen to demonstrate corporate social responsibility during the pandemic.
“There is also a desire from many furloughed employees to play their part during this time of national and global crisis. This collaborative approach will enable a robust response to the challenges the country faces. This scheme offers a very practical way to harness this wish to help,” it added.
“We are also engaging with other public sector bodies on our approach, as we use the insights from the scheme to inform the wider public sector drive to enable individuals to contribute towards the country’s response to Covid-19.”