Worker policy: guidelines to writing

A Workers policy is:

  • a clearly set out written document that can be referred to, used effectively, and reviewed regularly
  • relevant and appropriate to the museum’s workforce, in the case of CMP museums the policy refers primarily to volunteer workers.

For CMP registration and accreditation a Workers Policy consists of sections on

  1. Recruitment
  2. Induction procedures for museum workers including skills training and other resources for museum workers

The policy should also make reference to the museum’s Volunteer guidelines which outline the rights and responsibilities of volunteers. See Help Sheet Volunteer guidelines writing guide for assistance in writing these guidelines.

The History Trust does not monitor a museum’s compliance with OHS&W legislation or require access to written conditions of employment for paid staff, though these may be included in the Workers policy.

Writing policies should be a collaborative effort, in which attitudes and approaches to managing the museum’s workforce are shared and agreed upon. It is useful to establish a sub-committee to prepare the Workers policy and the Volunteer guidelines or, alternatively, one person can be delegated to start writing, with everyone having the chance to comment on a draft.


Using this document

This document is presented as a series of headings and questions. The headings can be used to structure the Workers Policy. The questions, and the notes beneath, are intended as prompts to guide decision making about the content of the Workers Policy. Write brief statements or lists, as appropriate, in answer to the questions in order to build up the content of the Workers Policy.

Museums may choose to work through this document independently, or, on request, the History Trust can facilitate a meeting to guide the process.

1. Recruitment

  • How are new museum workers recruited? 

A museum needs to ensure that it has enough peopel with the right skills to keep it running on a day to day basis and to ensure its future viability.

  • What methods does the museum use to locate and encourage new volunteers to become involved with the museum?
  • How does it seek to recruit volunteers of different ages and skills?
  • Does teh museum have collectiosn which require particular skills and knowledge? For example the museum may have particular machinery which requires a skilled person to run and maintain it.
  • If so, how does the museum seek to recruit suitable workers?

2. Induction and skills training

  • How are new museum workers introduced to the policies, operations and programs of the museum?

Each CMP museum is required to introduce or induct new workers into the museum, its policies, functions and operations. Induction materials should include the museum’s relevant current policies and code of ethics. Mentoring and other forms of in-house training are also valuable. The policy should outline:

  • What happens when a new volunteer comes to work for the first time
  • How the museum ensures that workers are provided with all the information that they require to perform their job effectively and ethically
  • Who is responsible for providing the required information and training
  • How the museum ensures that workers have read and understood information about the policies, operations and programs of the museum. For example, the policy might require that an induction checklist with tick boxes is provided for each new worker to complete, with a copy kept on file. See the example at the end of this Help Sheet.
  • What other written information is provided for museum workers? Where is this information kept, and how is it up-dated?

As well as information about policies and ethics, new volunteer workers will require an information/procedure sheet that can easily be referred to when they are ‘on duty’. This sheet should cover such areas as opening and closing procedures, money handling, handling enquiries from visitors, booking group tours etc.

Outline in your policy

  • How this procedure sheet will be developed
  • How often procedures will undergo reviewing and updating
  • Who will be responsible for this process
  • Where copies of the procedure sheet will be kept. It might be a good idea to keep an electronic copy of the sheet which can easily be updated and reprinted whenever required.


  • What work programs are in place for museum workers?


  • if workers are required to carry out particular tasks
  • if different workers need to be assigned to different aspects of the museum's operations
  • Who is responsible for these assignments
  • How work programs will be developed
  • How they will be monitored and evaluated


  • What steps are taken to give museum workers the knowledge and skills they need to carry out their duties?

All workers need training and should be given the opportunity for skills development. Skills development has a dual benefit. It helps the museum to retain volunteers by engaging their interest and allowing them to see extra benefits in volunteering. Training volunteers also ensures that good practices are followed in all aspects of the running of the museum.

List the ways in which museum workers will be provided with knowledge and skills. This could include

  • providing access to relevant journals, websites and other forms of information
  • mentoring by other experienced workers
  • encouraging and funding (where required) attendance at training courses and refresher courses
  • encouraging membership of professional associations, peak bodies and networks to facilitate exchange of ideas.

Provide details of how workers would go about accessing or requesting further training. Where training might require payment, outline what worker’s entitlements might be on a yearly basis.

  • How are museum workers retained, replaced or succeeded?

The workers policy should include strategies for making volunteering rewarding and attractive in order to retain volunteers. It should also provide for a process of succession, where new workers are educated to take over the responsibilities of retiring workers.

  • What ways does the museum seek to retain volunteers? The museum might have a recognition program which acknowledges years of service. Provision of skills training as mentioned above will assist in enticing volunteers to remain.
  • Does the museum take into account the varying work needs/patterns of different types of volunteers? For example are meetings held outside of regular working hours, are a range of tasks provided, both short term and long term, to suit the varying availabilities of volunteers?
  • How does the museum provide for succession of volunteers? When a long term museum worker indicates that he or she is considering retirement, the policy might call for a cross-over period during which this worker mentors a newer worker, passing on acquired knowledge. The policy should also stipulate that procedures and specialist information should also be recorded in written form so that it can be passed on to successive workers.

3. Rights and responsibilities of volunteers

The rights and responsibilities of volunteer workers should be outlined in detail in the museum’s volunteer guidelines. See the Help Sheet: Volunteer guidelines for tips and an example of how to write these guidelines.

You could also adapt these forms to fit the requirements of your museum:

1) Volunteer Application
2) Volunteer acknowledgement and induction checklist

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