Ensuring Human Resources are Managed

Duty of care

Ultimately, everyone in an organisation is accountable to the governing body. Governing bodies have a duty of care to their volunteers and paid staff both morally and legally. Governing bodies must fulfil all legal and regulatory requirements and seek, in good faith, to have open and constructive working relationships with people in the organisation.

This requires the governing body to:

  • Be aware of their statutory responsibilities as employers of paid staff and/or involvers of volunteers
  • Ensure policies and procedures are in place for legal compliance and best practice in the recruitment, support, management and development of paid staff and volunteers
  • Play their part in formal procedures for tackling complaints, grievances and disciplinary issues for volunteers and/or paid staff, should their behaviour violate the values and policies of the organisation.


There is a large amount of legislation dealing with the employment of paid staff, but very little about involving volunteers (other than general health and safety and equality legislation, etc.). As employers, it is the responsibility of the governing body to keep up to date with the demands of employment law, which are onerous.

Key legal obligations towards employees include:

  • Supplying the employee with a written statement of terms and conditions of employment (usually known as a contract), within two months of commencing work
  • Notifying the employee within one month of any change to the terms and conditions required by law
  • Providing the employee with written information about the organisation's dismissal procedures within 28 days of starting employment
  • Giving 28 days' notice of any changes to dismissal procedures
  • Providing the employees with proper payslips
  • Adhering to the provisions of the Organisation Of Working Time Act 1997
  • Providing a Personal Retirement Savings Account facility for the employee after six months (although the organisation is not obliged to pay into this)
  • Paying PRSI and Employer's PRSI in respect of the employee to the Revenue Commissioners.

Delegating human resource tasks

The governing body's duty of care for volunteers and staff cannot be delegated, although associated tasks can be (for example, to paid staff). To ensure that specific employment functions are fulfilled and that adequate attention is given to human resource issues, personnel or staffing subcommittees are often set up. Governing bodies should ensure there are open channels of communication with employees and volunteers and consult them on issues of importance.

Tasks that should never be delegated to staff include:

  • Recruitment, support, supervision, appraisal and remuneration of the lead employee (chief executive officer or similar)
  • Handling grievance and disciplinary 'final appeals'
  • Final decision on key staffing issues
  • Identification of policy needs and final policy approval.

The governing body should also ensure that it periodically reviews staff structures, roles and remits to check whether they remain right for the organisation.

Additional Resources

Pay and Benefits Survey

The first pay and benefits survey of community, voluntary and charitable organisations. This survey is the first comprehensive survey of its kind in Ireland, designed specifically for our sector and was published in June 2008.  Buy Now

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