Volunteers’ Rights: Top Tips for Employers

blog-publish-date

20 Feb 2018

blog-read-duration

Many organisations rely on the support of volunteers to deliver their activities.

Whether you’re the boss of a not-for-profit organisation which needs volunteer support to help you fundraise, or you’re a leader of a big commercial organisation that relies on volunteers to help with events – you need to handle volunteering correctly. Here are a few areas of advice to ensure your volunteers don’t stray into the territory of being paid workers or employees.

What Rights Do Volunteers Have?

Volunteers don’t have a contract of employment, so they don’t have the same rights as an employee or worker. As an employer you should give all volunteers an agreement that explains:
  • The level of supervision and support they’ll get
  • What training they’ll receive
  • Whether they’re covered under your organisation’s employer or public liability insurance
  • Health and safety issues
  • Any expenses your organisation will cover
A volunteer agreement isn’t compulsory, but sets out what the volunteer can expect from your organisation. It does not form a contract between you and the volunteer.

Pay and Expenses

You should never pay a volunteer for their time, but you can pay expenses. Expenses are usually limited to food, drink, travel or any equipment they need to buy. It’s very important that you don’t pay a volunteer for their work. This is because they may become classed as an employee or worker rather than a volunteer if they receive any other payment, reward or benefit in kind. This includes any promise of a contract or paid work in the future. Employees and workers get certain employment rights like receiving the minimum wage.

Are There Any Age Limits?

There’s no upper age limit on volunteering. However, some organisations’ insurance policies don’t cover volunteers if they’re under 16 or over a certain age (usually 80). Volunteers can’t work for a profit-making organisation if they’re under 14, even if they’re not paid. Check with your local councils, as they might have extra rules about the work volunteers can do as a young person. For example, a person might not be able to volunteer at a charity shop if the council decides that it’s a profit-making organisation.

Can Every Volunteer Claim Benefits?

Volunteers can claim benefits if:
  • The only money they get from volunteering is to cover expenses, like travel costs
  • They continue to meet the conditions of the benefit they get

Criminal Records and Volunteering

If a person has a criminal record they can still volunteer in most roles, depending on their offences. If you are an employer who is looking for volunteers to work with children or vulnerable adults, you will need to carry out a Disclosure and Barring Service check.

Expert Support

If you need advice and support with volunteering, as well as ensuring the right employment contracts are in place for your workers and employees, then Croner’s experts can help. For employment law support from an HR pioneer with over 75 years’ experience call 0808 145 3490.

Free to Download Employer Resources

  • Pay Awards & Forecast (September 2018)

    FREE DOWNLOAD

    Pay Awards & Forecast (September 2018...

    Read Croner Reward's expert settlement and forecast report for September 2018

    Read more
  • Sample Health & Safety Policy Statement

    FREE DOWNLOAD

    Sample Health & Safety Policy Stateme...

    Here we’ve included a free sample Health & Safety Policy Statement that UK business owners can refer to.

    Read more
  • Pay Awards & Forecast (June 2018)

    FREE DOWNLOAD

    Pay Awards & Forecast (June 2018)

    Read Croner Reward's expert Settlements and Forecasts report for June 2018

    Read more
  • How Much Does Employee Turnover Cost Your Business?

    BLOG

    How Much Does Employee Turnover Cost ...

    A recent Glassdoor survey revealed that almost 35% of hiring professionals expec...

    Read more
  • Staff Turnover: What Do You Need to Know?

    BLOG

    Staff Turnover: What Do You Need to K...

    Having a high worker turnover can have mean two things: A negative impact on you...

    Read more
  • What is Wrongful Dismissal?

    BLOG

    What is Wrongful Dismissal?

    If you breach an employee’s contract, you could be liable for wrongful dismissal...

    Read more
  • bemrose-school-derby

    CASE STUDY

    Bemrose School Derby

    “Having Croner-i saves us a lot of time and money, as we do not have to use cred

    Read more
  • wmtr

    CASE STUDY

    WMTR

    “I’d definitely recommend the Croner OnSite services and I have done already, I

    Read more
  • certikin

    CASE STUDY

    Certikin

    “Our Distribution Manager had a particularly technical query relating to respira

    Read more

Ready to focus on what you do best?

Get your free consultation and speak to an expert today.