Research amongst business decision-makers suggests staff who volunteer as magistrates can be ‘good for business’, as the Ministry of Justice calls upon employers across all sectors to support the search for 4,000 new magistrates in England and Wales.
As part of the national recruitment drive, research from the Ministry of Justice has found the top qualities HR and business leaders see in people who volunteer as magistrates are sound judgement (89%) and effective decision-making (81%).
Magistrates are trained to develop transferrable skills such as critical analysis, complex problem solving, mediation, influencing and decision making. Employers agreed the potential business benefits of having employees as magistrates include the ability for organisations to show a commitment to local communities (43%) and demonstrate their social conscience (41%). Encouraging employees to volunteer as magistrates is an effective way for employers to give back to society.
Supporting volunteers and demonstrating social responsibility is particularly crucial for employers in the current battle to attract and retain talent, with evidence suggesting people are more likely to want to work for organisations that give back. IBM’s Institute for Business Value research from 14,000 people across nine countries, including the UK, found more than two-thirds of the workforce are more likely to apply for, and accept, jobs with socially responsible organisations.
Currently, some misconceptions mean a number of employers risk losing out on the business benefits of supporting staff who volunteer. Only two-thirds of decision-makers say they know what a magistrate is and does (66%), which is less than the general public (72%). Over half wrongly believe magistrates are required in court more than 13 days a year (56%).
In reality, the time commitment is limited and many magistrates fulfil this crucial role alongside full-time employment and caring responsibilities. Volunteering as a magistrate is also something open to most of the workforce. All magistrates are given robust training and an experienced mentor in their first year to develop their skills and legal knowledge.
No specific qualifications are required and people from all walks of life are encouraged to apply – from plumbers to project managers, and chefs to computer programmers. Employers in all sectors are therefore being encouraged to support the largest campaign in the 650-year history of the magistracy.
Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab, said:
“Encouraging your employees to fulfil the vital voluntary role of a magistrate is not only a powerful way to show your commitment to them and your local community but it makes good business sense.
“Magistrates enjoy excellent training and develop a wide range of highly valued skills that can help to boost their career and your business. Supporting volunteer magistrates can help you attract and retain talent whilst delivering improved job satisfaction.
“We are calling on employers to back this recruitment drive for more magistrates – it’s good for your people, your organisation and your community. Your support will help enable magistrates to play an even greater role in serving swift justice for our society. ”
Sarah Findlater, Director of HR, M&S said:
“At M&S, we take pride in supporting the communities we serve. Encouraging our employees to become magistrates means they gain insight into local community issues and valuable new skills to boost their career with us. We would encourage all employers to provide time for people to act as magistrates as it gives back to society, supports colleague development and is good for business.”
Janet Garner, Head of HR, Skills and Academy Principal, BAE Systems, said:
“Providing our employees with time to act as magistrates not only supports the local communities in which we operate but we recognise it also presents a unique opportunity to develop their skills, experience and knowledge which helps their career development and ultimately, the effectiveness of our business.”
A magistrate’s role is voluntary with individuals expected to dedicate a minimum of 13 days a year service. Employers need to allow time off work for this type of public service volunteering. It is at the employer’s discretion whether this is paid or unpaid leave, but many employers support their employees by granting paid leave for at least some of a magistrate’s sitting days.
If would like to support your employees to volunteer as magistrates visit: icanbeamagistate.co.uk/employer-advice