How can you help?
AS AN EMPLOYER WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
In many cases panel members need their employer’s support to carry out their role. The supportive partnership between the panel member and employer is crucial to the functioning of the Children’s Hearings System.
Children’s hearings normally take place during the day and panel members usually sit on one or two half-day sessions per month. This almost inevitably means that panel members will have to sit on hearings at times when they would normally be at work, so it is crucial that the employer/line manager and work colleagues appreciate the value of the contribution that their employee/colleague is making to their community.
As members of statutory tribunals, Children’s Panel members are entitled to reasonable time off work to carry out their duties (Section 50, Employment Rights Act 1996). So the willing and enthusiastic support of employers, line managers and colleagues is essential for the system to work effectively.
WHAT BENEFITS ARE THERE TO MY ORGANISATION?
Children’s Panel members are trained in skills which are transferable to the workplace. Panel members are required to successfully complete SCQF level 7 accredited training. This training develops skills which include:
- communicating effectively – especially with children and their families
- working as a member of a team
- reading, understanding and processing complex and sensitive information contained within reports
- the capacity to take responsibility for making difficult decisions
- maintaining confidentiality
Panel members learn to absorb, consider and critically analyse large quantities of detailed information from the professional reports produced for hearings. These skills can help employees to be more confident and effective, and they are developed at no cost to you as an employer. Supporting employees to train and volunteer makes good business sense.
Although there can be a degree of inconvenience, most employers do see the benefits.
ENTITLEMENT TO PAID TIME OFF
While some employers support panel members’ activities on full pay, some don't.
If paid time off is not available, in addition to travel and some other expenses available to all, panel members can claim an allowance for loss of earnings - although this is unlikely to fully compensate the employee for actual loss of earnings.
Here are quotes from employers, who have supported their employees' involvement with the Children's Panel:
"The Children’s Panel campaign provides an important service to Scotland. It is a rewarding commitment for individuals who volunteer their spare time to the campaign. We encourage our personnel to be involved in wider community life which helps cement the strong bonds that the we enjoy with local communities."
"We actively encourage and support our staff to consider community volunteering opportunities such as the Children's Panel. We ensure that employees, who contribute as panel members have the flexibility needed to train and attend hearings. In return we reap a range of benefits from the new skills that they acquire."
"The Children's Hearing System is unique and so are the development opportunities it provides to volunteers. The skills learned from being a children's panel member are directly transferable into the workplace. It offers a different perspective by working with a range of panel members and professionals to find appropriate solutions for the wellbeing of children at risk or in trouble. We believe this service to be very important and we support our people who choose to be panel members with up to 25 paid days each year."
A leaflet for the employers of Children's Panel members is available on our 'Resources' page.