the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect

21 March 2012

Talks have taken place between the BBC and BECTU about the Corporation's plans to create 500 'volunteering' roles to enable staff across the country to play a part in delivering coverage of the Olympics.

The discussions followed concerns raised by BECTU that some of the identified roles were business critical and that some staff could find themselves working without pay in order to take part in the BBC's Olympics' operation.

BECTU believes that all BBC staff should be paid to work on the Olympics and should not be required to take annual leave in order to take part.

No compulsion

The BBC insists that the scheme is voluntary, that no-one will be compelled to offer their services, but that typically selected staff will use their annual leave to cover payment for their volunteering time.

"It's regrettable that the BBC will not change its position on individuals needing to take annual leave; however our approach on this has to be balanced with the real interest that BBC staff outside of broadcast critical roles have in taking part," explained Helen Ryan, supervisory official.

The BBC has agreed to revisit the list of roles advertised internally which had included runner, meeter & greeter and sound supervisor.

The discussions with BECTU, held at the end of February, confirmed that:

  •  the volunteers are to complement the work of paid staff and will not be used to displace staff;
  • individuals are free to volunteer (or not to volunteer);
  • the BBC have identified the types of functions / 'roles' that may be filled by volunteers;
  • if no one volunteers then there will be no one hired instead;
  • there is an application process so there is some transparency in how staff are to be allocated;
  • volunteers will be given training eg on health and safety, where required;
  • BBC insurances will apply;
  • BBC policies will apply.

"We are aware that members wish to get involved with the Games by volunteering to take annual leave; what is essential now is that they understand that participation is voluntary and that no work done under this scheme should replace that normally done by a paid member of staff not on annual leave," concluded Helen Ryan.