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Working in the voluntary sector
Working in the voluntary sector

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3 What is conflict?

Conflict at a basic level involves a serious disagreement or argument. There can be conflict at home between family members or between countries at an international level. Here the focus is on conflict in the workplace.

As the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) (2016) states, conflict in the workplace could involve just two employees, an individual in conflict with their manager or rivalry between teams. Alternatively, there might be a lack of trust and cooperation within a whole organisation.

Conflict can be either informal or formal (NCVO Knowhow Nonprofit, 2016). Informal conflict may involve a minor disagreement between two people. Formal conflict could result in a claim brought against an organisation in an employment tribunal.

In the case of the voluntary sector, there could be conflict between employees as well as between staff and volunteers, or among volunteers. However, as you saw in Week 2 on volunteer management, volunteers are not subject to the same legislation as paid employees. Good practice in supporting volunteers in dealing with conflict is appropriate, though.