Who is entitled to take emergency volunteering leave during the coronavirus outbreak?

The emergency volunteering leave (EVL) provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020 are not in force. This means that emergency volunteering leave is not currently a right available to workers.

If the relevant provisions come into force, a worker can take unpaid emergency volunteering leave if an appropriate authority (for example NHS body or local council) has provided them with an emergency volunteering certificate (EVC) showing that they:

  • have been approved as an emergency volunteer in health or social care; and
  • will be acting as an emergency volunteer in health or social care for a specified period of two, three or four weeks.

A "worker" includes a part-time, temporary or casual worker, as well as an individual on a zero hours contract. An agency worker can also take emergency volunteering leave.

There is no minimum length of service required to take emergency volunteering leave.

Undertakings with a headcount of fewer than 10 are exempt. Other exemptions include the civil service and police. There is no mechanism in the Coronavirus Act 2020 for employers to turn down or postpone a qualifying worker's emergency volunteering leave.

This is not a blanket right for workers who are carrying out volunteering activities during the coronavirus outbreak to take unpaid leave. It is limited to workers who are provided with an emergency volunteering certificate by an appropriate authority requiring them for a specified period because they have suitable medical or social care skills.