Volunteers’ Rights

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.

Volunteers’ Rights: Top Tips for Employers

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 & 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 & 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 01455 858 132.

Free to Download Employer Resources

  • Exit Interview Questionnaire

    FREE DOWNLOAD

    Exit Interview Questionnaire

    Read more
  • Five HR Workouts

    FREE DOWNLOAD

    Five HR Workouts

    Read more
  • Grievance Policy Guide & Template

    FREE DOWNLOAD

    Grievance Policy Guide & Template

    Read more
  • BLOG

    [Infographic] Staff Absence Trends Tr...

    BrightHR has dug out the data, pulled the reports, and crunched the numbers with...

    Read more
  • BLOG

    Case Law Update: When is an Impairmen...

    The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that, when bringing a claim of di...

    Read more
  • BLOG

    Case Law Update: Company Losses & Rea...

    The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has found that permitting an employee to wo...

    Read more
  • Print Inc.

    CASE STUDY

    Print Inc.

    Print Inc. are an embroidery and print company based in Carmarthenshire, South W...

    Read more
  • Scotgold Resources

    CASE STUDY

    Scotgold Resources

    A lot of organisations believe they’re sitting on a gold mine. Scotgold resource

    Read more
  • Wacoal

    CASE STUDY

    Wacoal

    “Overall, we’re very happy with the service Croner provides and we’d recommend i

    Read more

Do you have any questions?

Get a free callback from one of our regional experts today