The Ministry of Justice is calling on more employers to encourage staff to volunteer as magistrates.
It says the transferrable skills learned from being ‘on the bench’ also had benefits for employers, including critical analysis, complex problem solving and mediation.
More than 12,000 magistrates currently volunteer across England and Wales, and more than half of decision-making employers think employees who also serve as magistrates will develop better soft or professional skills.
Supporting staff to volunteer can also boost recruitment. Evidence suggests people are more likely to want to work for organisations that give back to society.
Furthermore, having a magistrate as an employee offers organisations the win-win of attracting and retaining talent. Nearly 1 in 10 volunteers recognise it as a way to ‘get on in their career’, so employer support is likely to be welcomed.
While 84% of business decision-makers would be generally supportive if an employee wanted to be a magistrate, research from the MoJ suggests some employers may need more awareness of how volunteering as a magistrate will impact their business. Only 66% of decision-makers said they knew what a magistrate is and does, and 56% were unaware that magistrates only need to be in court 13 days a year.
In reality, many magistrates fulfil this crucial role alongside full-time employment and caring responsibilities.
Through targeted marketing, the MoJ and the Judiciary aim to put a spotlight on the role of a magistrate and attract 4,000 new volunteers across England and Wales. This recruitment drive is the largest in the history of the magistracy.
Dipesh Mistry, Chair of the NatWest Midlands and East Regional Board, said: “NatWest is committed to supporting and giving back to the communities we operate in.
“The Ministry of Justice’s recruitment drive and the qualities they are looking for in people who will become great magistrates align with our values as an organisation to be inclusive, curious and robust.
“By encouraging our employees to volunteer as magistrates, not only are they creating positive change for their community and reflecting our values, but they are able to build skills which benefit our business such as decision making and teamwork.”
Volunteering as a magistrate is open to most of the workforce. No legal qualifications or experience is required, and an individual’s level of education is no barrier. Anyone aged between 18 and 74 that wants to challenge themself, develop new skills and create positive change for the good of their community can be a magistrate.
Volunteers will work closely with two other magistrates and a legal advisor, who offers guidance on the law. More information is available at the magistrate recruitment site