Association Internationale sans but lucratif – A.R. 12.388/92 du 6.8.1992 / Membre de l’IAVE (International Association of Volunteer Effort)
et de la Plate-forme Sociale
INTRODUCTION TO THE RESEARCH PROJECT, DISCLAIMER AND
This is one of a series of “country-reports” produced by the Association of Voluntary
Service Organisations (AVSO) and the European Volunteer Centre (CEV). They aim
to provide comprehensive and practical information on volunteers and the law in a
range of current and future European Union Member States. Each country report
explores, in a standardised format, some of the key questions that face volunteers and
volunteer- involving organisations in relation to their legal positions.
Important: the information contained in each country report is subject to
resources and quality of information available. It is also subject to frequent
If you wish to comment on any of the country reports, or be involved in their a nnual
updates in some form, CEV and AVSO would be delighted to hear from you.
ASSOCIATION OF VOLUNTARY SERVICE ORGANISATIONS (AVSO)
174 rue Joseph II, Brussels 1000, Belgium
TEL: +32 2 230 68 13, FAX: +32 2 231 14 13
E-MAIL: email@example.com WEB SITE: http://www.avso.org
EUROPEAN VOUNTEER CENTRE (CEV)
Rue de la Science 10, Brussels 1000, Belgium
TEL: +32 2 511 75 01; FAX: +32 2 514 59 89
E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org; WEB SITE: http://www.cev.be
Copyright CEV and AVSO: any reproduction of the material contained in the
country-reports or the website must acknowledge the source fully.
This country-report has been produced by CEV Coordinator, Gail Hurley, Andy
Forster Head of Policy at Volunteering England, and CEV volunteer Annika López-
Lotson. It was edited by Gail Hurley. We would like to thank them, and also the
valuable contributions and comments of Christopher Spence, Volunteering England
and CEV, Kathryn Dickie, Volunteering England, Wales Council for Voluntary
Action (website) and Lisa McElherron, Volunteer Development Agency, Northern
GENERAL DEFINITIONS OF VOLUNTEERISM
VOLUNTEERISM refers to the group of all volunteer activities – be it in the form of
part-time volunteering or full-time voluntary service - carried out either domestically
or abroad for the common good, on the basis of a free and informed personal
decision and commitment to volunteer philosophy, within the framework of private or
public non-profit organisations, on the basis of a volunteer agreement for an unpaid
and non-profit making activity, which does not replace paid labour force but adds
value to the organisation. Different legal implications may arise from different sorts
of volunteer activities, depending on the length of time the voluntary activity and the
appropriate minimum of social and economic protection they receive.
VOLUNTEERING (Fr.: bénévolat) refers to those specific volunteer activities that are
carried out spontaneously and on a part-time basis. It is a good practice in the
volunteer sector to afford to those engaged in volunteering activities an appropriate
minimum social protection standard, such as insurance against risks of volunteering-
related accidents, illness and third party liability, to reimburse any expenses incurred
by volunteers up to the limit agreed with volunteer organisation in question and to
provide volunteers with appropriate training.
FULL-TIME VOLUNTARY SERVICE (Fr.: volontariat) refers to specific project-based
volunteer activities, a continuous and full-time activity, for a limited period of time,
either domestically or abroad. Pursuant to the rules of good practice, those
performing voluntary service activities shall be afforded an appropriate minimum
standard of social protection, such as health insurance and insurance against risks of
volunteering-related accidents, illness and third party liability, reimbursed for any
expenses incurred in the course of their voluntary service and provided with
accommodation and means of subsistence up to the reasonable limit agreed with the
volunteer organisation in question, and receive appropriate training.
LEGAL POSITION OF VOLUNTEERS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
1. CONCEPT OF VOLUNTEERING IN THE U.K.
The Compact on Relations between Government and the Voluntary and Community
Sector in England and the National Centre for Volunteering (NCV), England define
“An activity that involves spending time, unpaid, doing something that aims to benefit the environment
or someone (individuals or groups) other than, or in addition to close relatives.”
Volunteer Development Scotland defines it as:
“The giving of time and energy for the benefit of individuals, groups, communities, or the environment.
It is undertaken by choice, and is the largest single means by which individuals engage actively with
their communities. It is intrinsically linked to civic engagement, social justice, lifelong learning, and
2. VOLUNTEERS AND THE LAW
There is no one piece of legislation that refers explicitly to volunteers in the United
Kingdom. Only general areas of law that apply to all U.K. citizens as individuals
cover volunteers. Employment legislation affords employees limited opportunities to
enforce their right to fair and equal treatment – volunteers do not have equivalent
legally enforceable rights. Without the protection or financial investment arising out
of a contract of employment volunteers are unable to challenge discrimination or be
afforded the means or mechanisms to do so. Nevertheless, it is good practice in the
U.K. to extend such rights and staff policies to volunteers, however there is no legal
obligation to do so.
U.K. Employment Law may cover volunteers if the volunteer can pro ve s/he is
working under a contract of employment. In order for there to be a contract of
employment three tests must be satisfied. There must be an offer and acceptance
leading to agreement; there must be an intention to be legally bound (a contractual
intention); and there must be consideration. This creates an “employer-employee”
contract, and the volunteer may be considered an employee by a court or tribunal.
The National Minimum Wage Act 1998 refers specifically to voluntary workers who
are working for a charity, voluntary organisation, associated fundraising or statutory
body. Voluntary workers (who provide their time and effort completely freely) need
not be paid the national minimum wage because they do not have any contractual
arrangement and therefore are not classed as workers. But some people who consider
themselves “volunteers” could still potentially count as “workers” because they
receive some sort of payment or benefit in kind. However, these workers need not be
paid the national minimum wage if there voluntary work takes place under a
proscribed set of circumstances.
The Anti-Discrimination Law And The Human Rights Act
The employment provisions of the Race Relations Act 1976, the Sex Discrimination
Act 1975 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 are intended to ensure that
employees are not unfairly discriminated against on the grounds of race, sex or
disability. Age and sexual orientation are not covered. The employment provisions of
these acts only apply to employees or other people working under a contract. They
would not normally apply to a volunteer.
As service provider, the Disability Discrimination Act imposes on organisations a
duty to make reasonable adjustments in the provision of goods, services, facilities and
premises, regardles of whether services are provided for a charge or free. You have to
take positive steps to make your services accessible to disabled people.
The Human Rights Act 1998 came into full force on October 2 nd 2000 giving further
effect in the UK to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the European Convention
on Human Rights. It has been suggested that the Act will give new rights to
volunteers who feel that they have been discriminated against by the organisations
that they are offering time to. Article 14 of the Human Rights Act prohibits
discrimination and it was thought that volunteers could state this article in any legal
cases. However Article 14 only works to protect individuals from different treatment
in exercising their other convention rights (Articles 1-13) and does not give a general
right to protection from different treatment in all areas of life. It is therefore very
unlikely that the Article 14 will have a substantial impact on the relationship that
organisations have with their volunteers. As well as Articles to which endorsement is
compulsory there are also Protocols which governments can endorse if they wish.
Protocol 12 is a stand alone right for individuals not to be discriminated against but
Britain has yet to endorse this right.
The one Article that may effect the way organisations work with volunteers is Article
8, the right to respect for private and family life. This will mean that individuals who
feel that their privacy has been infringed can take a case forward under Article 8 as
well as under the Data Protection Act. Charities should have clear confidentiality
policies outlining how information will be stored and whom it will be shared with.
Particular care should be taken with people‟s contact details, references and police
If an individual wanted to sue an organisation for breaking the Convention rights they
would first have to prove that the organisation was a public authority. Public
authorities include local authorities, health authorities, the police, courts, a nd private
companies and charities that carry out public functions. As yet there is no clear
guidance as to what constitutes a „public function‟. It could mean just organisations
that have tendered to run services for the local authority but it could also mean any
organisation offering a service to the public. The definition will not be made clear
until some test cases go through court.
Reimbursement Of Expenses And Other Necessary Economic Support Provided To
Volunteers: Tax, Social Security And Labour Law Implications
In the U.K. it is not a legal requirement that organisations should pay volunteers'
expenses, but it is good practice to do so to ensure people are not excluded from
volunteering because their expenses are not provided. For those on low incomes not
paying out of pocket expenses can act as a barrier to volunteering.
In the U.K., the Inland Revenue (IR) and the Department for Work and Pensions
disregard any payment in respect of expenses incurred (or to be incurred) where an
individual is a volunteer and derives no remuneration or profit from the engagement
and not treated as possessing a notional income.
In order to satisfy the Inland Revenue and the Department for Work and Pensions, the
expenses paid to the volunteer must reflect the actual costs incurred and must be at a
“reasonable” rate, for example mileage rates must be within accepted Inland Revenue
limits. Receipts should be provided as evidence of expenditure. Volunteers may also
be paid in advance or for anticipated expenditure so long as appropriate evidence of
In the U.K., volunteers should not be given fixed rate payments to cover their
expenses, nor should organisations be tempted to pay more than is actually incurred
by the volunteer. This could jeopardise any state benefits payments volunteers' may
receive, and could place them in a tax liability situation with the Inland Revenue. Any
payment above the amount incurred by a volunteer may be considered as income and
could contribute to a volunteer claiming that they were legally an employee under
U.K. Employment Law.
Voluntary Workers and the National Minimum Wage Act 1998
Volunteers (who provide their time and effort completely freely) need not be paid the
national minimum wage because they do not have any contractual arrangement and
therefore are not classed as workers. But some people who consider themselves
“volunteers” could still potentially count as “workers” because they receive some sort
of payment or benefit in kind. These workers need not be paid the national minimum
They work for a charity, voluntary organisation, charity shop, school, hospital or
similar body; and they receive only reasonable expenses, relevant training and/or
subsistence (but not money for subsistence). Regular payments are likely to give
the volunteer the right to the national minimum wage. However, a genuine
“honorarium” in the form of a gift with no obligation and of a reasonable amount
is not likely to give the volunteer the right to the national minimum wage; or
They are placed by a charity or similar body with another charity or similar body
and they also receive money for subsistence: for example, voluntary workers who
have been placed with a hospital or charitable care home by a charity which
specialises in such placements, and who are provided with some money to cover
Examples of Voluntary workers
A member of a charity who helps out from time to time at jumble sales for no pay and
under no obligation is not entitled to the national minimum wage. He does not have
any form of contract and does not count as a “worker”.
A worker for a community group who has set hours and is paid a wage is entitled to
the national minimum wage. He fits the definition of a worker and whether the
employer in such cases is a charity or voluntary organisation is irrelevant.
A volunteer worker in a hostel with charitable status who receives free
accommodation and food as well as expenses for any travel undertaken as part of t he
job, but who does not receive any monetary payments, is not entitled to the national
The volunteer who works in a hostel but who receives cash payments such as a
regular wage is likely to be entitled to the national minimum wage.
The Danger of Creating a Contract of Employme nt
Volunteer involving organisations which allow the distinction between paid
employees and volunteers to become blurred create a real risk for themselves.
The boundary between a contract of employment and a volunteering arrangement is
an ill defined one and it is possible for a volunteer involving organisation to cross that
boundary without consciously intending to do so.
Volunteer or employee, is there a contract?
In order for there to be a contract of employment three tests must be satisfied. There
must be an offer and acceptance leading to agreement; there must be an intention to
be legally bound (a contractual intention); and there must be consideration.
The growth of quite formal written agreements setting out the organisation‟s policy
towards their volunteers can create difficulties. Volunteer agreements should be
carefully checked to ensure that the agreements do not create a contract. In reviewing
any agreement words with contractual connotatio ns such as “agreement”, “contract”,
“pay”, “holiday” should be avoided.
Also avoid using the language of mutual obligations. A contract is much more likely
to be implied if the volunteer is expected “to do something in return for receiving
something”. The agreement should carefully use a language setting out “intentions”,
recalling “policies” and expressing hopes, rather than any more binding phraseology.
Insert a clear statement that no contract or relationship of employment is being
created, but do not be lulled into thinking that this will solve everything. Even if a
clear statement is there, if everything else points to the contrary the court/tribunal will
find on the central facts
The essence of volunteering is that it is a gift relationship. The volunteer can
withdraw from it whe never he or she wants. Neither volunteer nor charity can
legally force the other party to pe rform. An intention to be legally bound may be
inferred by an agreement, or from custom and practice. A situation may arise where
the parties must be presumed to intend that obligation to be binding. If volunteering
for a number of days gives certain rights - to free access, privileges, holidays or other
encouragements - then even if they may only have a limited monetary value, the court
may well take the view that it was intended that the volunteer should have a right to
these, i.e. that a legally binding obligation has arisen. In trying to be fairer to its
volunteers and give something back to those who give something, many charities are
quite understandably emphasising that volunteering brings benefits, but they must do
so with caution.
Under English Law every contract needs some form of consideration. Consideration
is not limited to payment of cash or wages. A consideration is any benefit received
(by the recipient) or any disadvantage or cost suffered by the providing party.
This wide definition covers many things that are provided routinely to volunteers, for
example benefits such as free entry, free or reduced price use of facilities, discounts
on sales, being trained. Potentially fraught is the area of expenses. It is not
consideration to repay a volunteer the expenses incurred. However expenses are
sometimes used to reward volunteers. In some organisations a standardised travel
allowance is paid instead of the actual cost of travel, the difference between the actual
travel cost and a larger payment is consideration.
The following three examples illustrate cases where volunteers were held not to have
South East Sheffield Citizens Advice Bureau v Grayson UKEAT/0283/03/DA
The facts in this case are that the respondent, having had her employment terminated
claimed her employer had discriminated against her, contrary to the provisions of the
Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The appellant claimed that it was exempt from
the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 as it employed less than 15 employees. The
respondent claimed that as volunteers had been engaged under the terms o f a formal
written agreement they should be treated as employees, taking the number of
employees over the threshold. The volunteer agreements included references to a
commitment to attend for specific hours, to attend training, attend staff meetings,
observe health and safety rules and practices and leaving the bureau.
The tribunal found that volunteers were not working under a contract of employment
as defined in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. It stated that the volunteer
agreement set out 'reasonable expectations' rather than contractual obligations.
Volunteers were not obliged to carry out work for the organisation, and the
reimbursement of expenses and provision of relevant training were not intended to be
a 'consideration' (the exchange of something of value as part of a contract).
Gradwell v CVS Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde 1997 COIT 2404314/97
The facts in this case were the following: all volunteers had signed a written volunteer
agreement; the volunteers were obliged to attend training and a monthly meeting, but
there was no other specified minimum time commitment of volunteers; the Council
for Voluntary Service reimbursed actual expenses only.
The Tribunal decided that these volunteers were not employees, because a
requirement that volunteers comply with an organisation‟s policies and rules is not
comparable to a requirement that they provide work. The latter may create a contract;
the former does not.
Alexander v Romania at Heart Trading Co Ltd 1997 COIT 3102006/97
Mrs. Alexander ran a charity shop for three years, with managerial and financial
responsibilities. She had a written job description, was paid expenses and received
training. She had earlier turned down the offer of a salary because she did not wish to
Mrs. Alexander claimed unfair dismissal, but the tribunal decided that she was not an
employee, because there was no consideration and therefore no contract. Training
could amount to consideration but the organisation had no obligation to provide it: the
skills Mrs. Alexander learnt simply accrued to her and weren't supplied as a benefit to
her by the charity shop.
In other cases however, pocket money, subsistence payments, honoraria or lump-sums
to cover possible expenses, training etc. have been considered as “payme nt” and
therefore the volunteers as “employees”, leading to parallel issues concerning
taxation, state welfare entitlements, the minimum wage and non-discrimination
The following two cases illustrate cases where volunteers have been able to prove that
they were working under a contract of employment with the organisation, and were
therefore entitled to full employment rights, are given below:
Armitage v Relate, 1994 COIT 43538/94
Mrs. Armitage was a volunteer counsellor with Relate and cla imed racial
discrimination. The industrial tribunal decided that she was legally an employee.
Relate conducted a very rigorous selection and training process, including a day- long
residential interview. Under the service agreement, Mrs. Armitage was required to
provide a minimum number of hours counselling each week. She had to repay part of
the cost of training if she left before providing 600 hours of counselling. Relate
undertook to provide training, to make reasonable arrangements for the counsellors'
work and not to make any changes to working arrangements without reasonable
notice and consultation. After three years‟ training, counsellors could become wholly
paid or have some sessional paid work at the manager's discretion.
Mrs. Armitage was held to have a contract of employment because:
She was obliged to provide 600 hours of counselling after receiving training, or
repay the organisation if she left without good reason before providing the
There was an expectation that after she had delivered a certain amount of
counselling she might be paid for future work
There was a long and formal written agreement, which detailed obligations on
The agreement referred to the organisation as the employer
Migrant Advisory Service(MAS) v Mrs. K Chaudri 1998 EAT 1400/97
Mrs. Chaudri did administrative work with MAS for two years and claimed unfair
dismissal and sex discrimination. The tribunal decided that she was an employee.
Mrs. Chaudri worked four mornings a week and was described by MAS as a
volunteer. She incurred no expenses as she lived nearby, walked to work and had
lunch at home. Nevertheless MAS paid her volunteers‟ 'expenses' of £25 a week, the
set sum they paid all their volunteers. They paid Mrs. Chaudri for weeks when she
was on holiday or sick and increased the payments to £40 a week although Mrs.
Chaudri still incurred no expenses. The payment was clearly for work, not
Welfare Protection Of Volunteers
Volunteers And Health Care In The U.K.
U.K. And EU Citizens
Medical treatment and care in the U.K. is free, under the National Health Service
(NHS), to all U.K. and E.U. citizens (on presentation of the E 111 Form). U.K. and
EU volunteers can therefore expect to be treated under the National Health Service.
Anyone, or the spouse or child of anyone, who is an unpaid worker with a voluntary
organisation offering services similar to those of a Health Authority or local authority
social services department, will be entitled to receive full treatment in a National
Health Service Hospital for free. If the volunteer is considered a trainee, they will also
have the right to receive full health-care treatment fee of charge.
Protection of Volunteers at Work: Insurance, Health and Safety
The employment-related provisions Health and Safety legislation may not apply in the
same way as to volunteers as they do employees however volunteer involving
organisations should comply because:
The legislation sets out basic standards of good practice
Volunteer involving organisations have a “duty of care”
Volunteer involving organisations (as employers) must provide a safe place of
work for employees, which could be compromised if different standards are
applied to volunteers
There is a statutory obligation for employers to protect the health and safety of the
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 a
volunteer involving organisation (as an employer) has a duty to identify and assess
hazards to employees and others arising from their work
Volunteers (as is any non-employee or member of the public) are prohibited from
intentionally or recklessly interfering with anything provided in the interests of health,
safety or welfare or using inappropriately.
Insurance issues for volunteers and volunteer involving organisations
Volunteers offer their services free of charge, but like paid employees they are
exposed to a variety of risks. All activities entail risk and volunteering is no different.
Insurance will not prevent things going wrong but it can compensate for the
consequences when thing do go wrong. An agency that engages volunteers has a duty
to protect them and if things go wrong an agency might find itself legally responsible,
consequently it is in an organisations best interests to protect its volunteers.
Types of risks
There are two distinct risk groups arising from engaging volunteers; firstly there are
those risks that a volunteer may be exposed to personally, and secondly there are
those risks that through pursuing their voluntary work, volunteers may expose the
volunteer involving organisation and possibly its service users to:
Accidental personal injury to the volunteer.
Non-accidental personal injury to the volunteer, for example assault by a service
Claims by a third party for damages caused by the volunteer‟s carelessness
(negligence) or more malicious intent, for example stealing from a service user where
the injured party may sue the volunteer as well as suing the volunteer involving
Liability arising from advice, given by the volunteer, on which reliance has been
placed that results in loss etc.
When will an agency be legally liable for injuries or damages?
Generally, an agency may find itself liable if it has failed to take “reasonable care” to
prevent injuries or damage.
What does legal liability mean?
The volunteer involving agency can be sued for damages to compensate for injuries or
damages sustained. It arises from the common law “duty of care”, which is the legal
duty to avoid carelessly causing injury or loss to anyone, or damage to property.
Harm to the volunteer can result in claims by the volunteer against the volunteer
Harm caused by the volunteer can produce claims by third parties against the
volunteer and the volunteer involving agency.
To whom does the volunteer involving agency owe this duty of care?
The volunteer involving organisation owes a “duty of care” to its volunteers, service
users and members of the public for its own actions and the negligent acts of its
Examples of a volunteer involving agency‟s potential liability for breach of “duty of
care” to volunteers:
If a volunteer is injured lifting a service user into or out of a wheelchair then the
agency may be held liable on the grounds that it selected a volunteer who was
unsuitable for the task, or that it failed to instruct the volunteer in how the task
should be performed.
If a volunteer is assaulted by a service-user then the agency may be held liable on
the grounds that it failed to warn the volunteer of the risk of assault, or that it
failed to instruct the volunteer in how to manage challenging situations.
Some examples of the volunteer involving agency‟s potential liability for breach
of duty of care to the service user for the negligent acts of volunteers.
If a service user is given misleading or incorrect advice by a volunteer and suffers
injury, damage or financial loss that is attributable to that advice the volunteer
involving agency may held liable.
If a service user of a volunteer involving agency is assaulted by a volunteer the
agency may be held responsible for failing to select a suitable person for the task.
If a service user is injured whilst in the care of a volunteer the volunteer involving
agency may be held liable for failing to take reasonable care to prevent injury.
A volunteer involving agency can protect itself and its volunteers against some of the
consequences of many types of risk by taking out appropriate insurance. The types of
insurance required will depend upon the tasks undertaken by the volunteer involving
agency and its volunteers. Any insurance cover should reflect the liability of the
volunteer involving agency in three distinct areas:
The risk of claims by a volunteer against the agency.
The risk of claims by a service user (or member of the public) against the
The risk of claims by a service user (or member of the public) against the agency.
Different policies will be required to cover these different tasks.
Employers' Liability Insurance
All organisations are legally required to have Employers' Liability Insurance for their
employees in the event of an accident, illness or injury suffered in the course of their
work. It can also be extended to volunteers. If volunteers are not explicitly included in
employers liability insurance they should be explicitly included in public liability
Public Liability Insurance
Public Liability Insurance covers legal liability to third parties for personal injury or
illness or damage to third party property caused by accidents associated with activities
of the organisation.
This indemnifies the volunteer involving agency against claims arising from accidents
that cause injury to persons or damage to property other than employees, in this
It is important to ensure that the policy carries an endorsement declaring that
volunteers are covered when working in other peoples homes, or in other premises or
on external activities such as playschemes or environmental projects. The volunteer
involving organisation must also tell the Insurers exactly what sort of activities they
are involved in (it is common practice for policies to have exclusion clauses referring
to, for example, certain sporting activities).
A Public Liability policy will provide cover up to a stated maximum amount for any
one accident. This is normally chosen by the policyholder. It is vitally important to
ensure that the cover is adequate
Personal Accident Insurance
Personal accident insurance is a voluntary benefit provided by a volunteer involving
agency if they choose to compensate volunteers in the event of an injury, sickness or
Professional indemnity Insurance
If the volunteer involving organisation acts in a professional capacity offering an
advisory service to members of the public - and in particular those organisations that
specialise solely in advice work - then it would be worth considering Professional
Professional Indemnity Insurance provides cover against claims arising from loss or
harm to a third party who reasonably places reliance on and acts on that advice, if the
advice subsequently turns out to be incorrect. The volunteer involving organisation‟s
liability may extend to someone to whom the agency could reasonably expect the
service user to pass on such advice.
Trustee Liability Insurance
Trustee Liability Insurance provides limited protection for trustees against the risk of
personal liability arising from breach of trust. Trustee Liability Insurance does not
cover losses as a result of illegal actions. Trustee Liability Insurance is not the same
as the organisation indemnifying itself against a loss to its funds resulting from the
acts and defaults of the trustees.
For more complete guidance on trustees and insurance contact the Charity
Commission on 01823 345427 for the booklet Charities and Insurance (CC49) or visit
their web site at http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk
Motor Vehicles Insurance
All drivers are required by law in the U.K. to have motor vehicle insurance.
Organisations involving volunteer drivers using their own vehicles should ensure that
volunteers have up-to-date insurance cover (and a current driving licence valid for the
type of vehicle being driven) and that they have told their insurance company that the
vehicle is being used for voluntary activities. It is possible to arrange “contingent
motor liability insurance”, “which protects the organisation against any legal liability
that may arise from a volunteer being involved in an accident during the course of
their volunteer work and who has not informed their insurance company. Some
organisations add cover for drivers to their public liability policy.
Older volunteer drivers using a vehicle provided by the organisation for whom they
are volunteering can pose a particular set of difficulties. Insurance companies may
impose upper age limits or require volunteers over a certain age to re-take their
driving test. In this context, it is therefore easier if the volunteer driver uses his/her
Volunteers and State Social Welfare Benefits
Volunteering while in receipt of state welfare benefits is acknowledged as something
which can improve peoples' personal circumstances because it increases self-
confidence, builds skills and enhances employment prospects. However, volunteers
must inform their local benefit office of their intention to volunteer.
Volunteering and the Job Seekers Allowance
Those who are out of work and claiming Job Seekers' Allowance can volunteer
without restriction. However, it is important that volunteering does not affect peoples'
capacity to look for work and therefore someone working full-time five days a week
would probably be deemed not to be “actively seeking work”. Unemployed volunteers
must also be willing to attend an interview within 48 hours and start work within a
week in order to retain entitlement to benefits payments. Those who claim Job
Seekers Allowance and who wish to volunteer must therefore reassure their local
Social Security Office/JobCentre/JobCentre Plus they are still actively seeking work,
can be contacted quickly and do not receive any pay other than expenses or monies to
pay for any necessary tools or clothing.
Those in receipt of long-term sickness or incapacity benefits, may volunteer without
restriction however the volunteer will need to reassure the Social Security
Office/JobCentre/JobCentre Plus that the activity they will be doing as a volunteer is
not the same as that for which they have been declared unfit. There is no limitation on
the amount of time the person may spend volunteering.
Voluntary Service Abroad and State Welfare Benefits
According to general rules, leaving the U.K. to volunteer abroad has the following
Housing Benefits: those who leave the U.K. to volunteer abroad will lose
entitlement to housing benefit if they leave the U.K. for periods of longer than 6
State Unemployment Benefits: those claiming the Job Seekers Allowance are
allowed to volunteer without restriction provided they can prove that they meet
the general requirements of being actively seeking, and available for work. This
means that, in most cases, those in receipt of job seekers allowance will lose
entitlement to unemployment benefit if they leave the U.K. to volunteer abroad. In
principle, volunteers should not have any problems recovering their entitlements
to welfare benefit upon their return to the U.K;
Family Allowances: in cases of dependant children or young people leaving the
U.K. for periods of longer than 8-10 weeks, families will lose entitlement to child
benefit. Families can apply for this benefit once their child returns to the United
Kingdom, provided that the returned volunteer still fulfils the required conditions:
o That s/he is aged under 19;
o That s/he is returning to full- time education of at least 12 hours per week
at a recognised educational establishment, and;
o S/he is studying towards a qualification up to, and including A
level/(G)NVQ Level 3 or equivalent.
Volunteers From Abroad: The Right To Stay And Volunteer In The UK
The “Asylum and Immigration Act” of 1996 (Section 8) makes it a criminal offence to
employ a person who does not have the right to work in the U.K. This does not apply
to volunteers unless they legally qualify as “employees”.
Regarding the right to stay and volunteer in the U.K., different conditions apply to
nationals from different countries.
European Union and European Economic Area (E.E.A.) Nationals
Those from E.U. Member States or from E.E.A. countries, i.e. Iceland, Norway and
Liechtenstein need neither a work permit nor a residence permit to volunteer in the
U.K. However, they may be required to provide evidence of resources provided to
meet subsistence costs to prove they will not need assistance from the U.K. social
security system. The organisation for whom the volunteer is volunteering could write
a letter in this regard detailing subsistence support provided to the volunteer.
Non-E.U. country nationals may require a “volunteer visa” or a work permit in order
to volunteer in the UK.
There is no provision in the Immigration Rules for the admission of non- EEA
nationals to engage in voluntary work. Work permits are only issued where a genuine
vacancy exists and where particular qualifications or skills are required that are in
short supply from the resident and EEA labour force. These tests will therefore
normally exclude volunteers. However, there are a number of charitable organisations
who wish to engage overseas nationals as volunteers. In the interests of supporting
charitable work and youth mobility, the Home Office does allow non-EEA nationals
to come to the United Kingdom to undertake voluntary work with certain charitable
organisations in strictly defined circumstances under a concession operated outside
The provisions are designed to enable volunteers to develop their own caring and
leadership skills and also gain insights into the work of the charity as well as
experience living in a different culture. Those entering under the concession do so for
the purpose of purely voluntary activity, not for the purpose of paid employment. The
concession does not permit volunteers to take up permanent or salaried posts within
the charitable organisation they are serving, and the work involved will by its nature
not be of a kind that would normally be offered at a waged or salaried rate.
There is no mandatory entry clearance requirement attached to the concession, and it
is therefore possible for persons who have entered the United Kingdom in other
categories (including visa nationals) to be granted leave to remain under the
concession, provided that they meet all the criteria for leave under the concession.
The concession does not place a restriction on the number of times a person can enter
in the category. Normally, it will be reasonable to expect that some time will have
elapsed between entries in the category; it is a temporary entry category and
volunteers should intend to leave at the end of their stay. Where a person seeks entry
as a volunteer very soon after having spent a year in that capacity it will be important
to ascertain the reasons why s/he wishes to return so soon, and that s/he is not seeking
to establish him or herself permanently in the United Kingdom. It will also be
important to establish that the work s/he intends to do does not involve him or her
taking up any kind of post within the organisation s/he is hoping to serve; this
consideration will be particularly relevant if s/he is seeking to work for the same
organisation s/he served during their recent stay.
However, there may be circumstances where a volunteer has genuinely intended to
return home at the end of one year, but during the course of the year decides that if
possible s/he would like to return to the United Kingdom shortly after s/he has
completed his or her year's stay, and engage in a further period of voluntary work, for
his or her own cultural and developmental benefit, and because s/he wishes to make a
further valuable contribution as a volunteer. If the Entry Clearance Officer or
Immigration Officer is satisfied that s/he is genuinely seeking entry for the purpose of
voluntary work that meets the terms of the concession, and that s/he intends to return
home at the end of his stay then it would normally be appropriate to grant entry.
Leave to enter
A person seeking leave to enter as a volunteer will have to satisfy the immigration
officer that he meets the requirements set out in paragraph below. Entry clearance is not
mandatory, but the passenger must be able to produce documentary evidence to show
that he has been accepted for voluntary work with a charitable organisation in work that
meets the requirements of the concession.
A passenger seeking leave to enter to undertake voluntary work must be able to show
the activity is purely voluntary and does not involve taking up a salaried post or
permanent position of any kind within the charitable organisation or entering into
any arrangement that is likely to constitute a contract of employment (see Note on
National Minimum Wage Legislation, point (ii) below); and
the activity is either for a charitable organisation listed below or a registered charity
or recognised body (see below) whose work meets the criteria set out in this
the activity is unpaid, or is not likely to be subject to payment of the National
Minimum Wage [see note below on National Minimum Wage exemptions for
volunteers and residential members of religious and other communities, which are
registered charities, whose work involves providing care] and directed towards a
worthy cause; and
it is closely related to the aims of the organisation; and
it is fieldwork involving direct assistance to those the charitable organisation has
been established to help; and
that there are satisfactory arrangements for the passenger's maintenance and
accommodation in the United Kingdom; and
that the passenger intends to leave the United Kingdom at the end of their stay.
Those who enter in the category may not during their stay have recourse to public
funds, or engage in any work other than the voluntary activity for which they have
A list of known registered charities published by the Immigration and Nationality
Directorate which regularly engage volunteers from overseas is available through the
Immigration and Nationality Directorate web page. This is not a definitive list and
volunteers coming to help other registered charities which meet the crite ria may also
be allowed entry to the United Kingdom under the concession.
Note on National Minimum Wage Legislation
Under the National Minimum Wage Act exemption for volunteers, volunteers will not
qualify for the National Minimum Wage provided that they receive no payments of
money at all, or no payments other than:
to reimburse actual expenses incurred in doing the voluntary activity, or
to cover reasonable estimated expenses; and
they receive no benefits in kind at all, or no benefits other than:
subsistence (for example food, laundry) which is reasonable in the circumstances
in their voluntary activity,
accommodation which is reasonable in the circumstances of their voluntary
activity and training whose sole or main purpose is to improve the person's ability
to do the voluntary activity.
Under the National Minimum Wage Act exemption for residential members of
religious and other intentional communities, those who are residential members of
such communities as defined in the Act do not qualify for the national minimum wage
in respect of employment by the community, as long as the community is not also an
independent school or does not provides higher or further education, and that the
community is a charity (or is established by a charity); that it practises or advances
a belief of a religious or similar nature; and that all or some of its members live
together for that purpose. This exemption involves no restrictions on monetary
payments or other benefits, such as training.
Some entrants under the concession for voluntary workers will be coming to do work
that is voluntary in nature with registered charities that are recognised under the terms
of the National Minimum Wage Act as religious or other intentional communities.
Where the work of the community involves providing care, and the provisions of Care
Standards legislation therefore need to be met by the organisation, such individuals
are permitted to enter under the concession even though the arrangements for their
support and accommodation may not comply with the terms of the NMW exemption
for voluntary workers, but rather with the terms of the National Minimum Wage
exemption for residential members of such communities, and the key requirement of
the category regarding not entering into a contract of employment may be waived.
(NB Those entering for this purpose must be intending to do work that is of direct
assistance to those the charitable organisation has been established to help; provided
that this is the case, they may enter and engage in an arrangement with the
organisation that complies with the terms of care standards legislation.)
Note on subsistence payments
In addition, voluntary workers placed by a charity with another charitable or
voluntary organisation can receive monetary payments for subsistence purposes.
However, it should be noted that any monetary payments in respect of subsistence
must be made in accordance with the terms of the National Minimum Wage
legislation which govern the making of such payments. Subsistence payments are
minimum payments that are needed to live on, and which are reasonable in the
circumstances. Organisations should be clear about what it is that the subsistence
payments are intended to cover, and whether they are appropriate.
An appropriate payment for subsistence must take into account what is reasonable in
the circumstances of the specific job for which the volunteer is employed.
Consequently, no outline figure can be provided as a guide to whether a payment will
constitute a payment for "subsistence" or not. Subsistence does not include money to
cover the costs of accommodation, which may only be provided as a benefit in kind.
(NB The only circumstance in which subsistence payments may include employers
paying money to cover the cost of accommodation is where the accommodation is a
genuine expense of doing the job, for example if the volunteer is travelling on behalf
of the charity and needs to stay in a hotel; where the charity is simply providing the
worker with living accommodation that must be given as a benefit in kind, not as a
A payment in respect of "subsistence" may properly take into account the fact that a
volunteer has to pay reasonable utility bills (for example, electricity, gas etc). There
might also reasonably be provided an amount for buying food, and to meet other
expenses which are reasonable in the course of day-to-day life while in the
employment. These expenses might include a small amount to be spent on leisure
activities, though this will depend on the circumstances. W here the volunteer is
working in a school (and is eligible to receive subsistence payments - see note above),
subsistence payments may include money to cover subsistence during school
Careful regard must be had to these factors when deciding what sum should be paid
for subsistence purposes. If the sum is more than what is genuinely and reasonably
needed for subsistence in the circumstances, the voluntary workers' exemption from
the National Minimum Wage Act will not apply. The worker would therefore be
entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage, and would also not meet the
requirements of the voluntary workers' concession as set out in these instructions.
NB An organisation may set up a separate charity to provide voluntary workers to
Where it is deemed merited, a voluntary worker may receive an honorarium, which
should consist of a one-off gift, with no expectation or obligation, and of a reasonable
Granting leave to enter
Leave to enter should be granted for up to 12 months on. Relevant foreign nationals
aged 16 and over, and coming for longer than 6 months, should be required to register
with the police (except for those entering under the auspices of Community Service
Leave To Remain
Further leave to remain may be granted if the volunteer continues to meet the criteria set
out above up to a maximum total stay of 12 months. (NB Where it has been established
that the volunteer is receiving subsistence payments in excess of that which is
genuinely and reasonably needed for subsistence in the circumstances, and that he is
therefore entitled to the National Minimum Wage, he will not meet the requirements
of the concession and the application should be refused.) Applications for leave to
remain beyond 12 months should be refused. The refusal notice should be accompanied
by a covering letter explaining the applicant has been treated under a concession but the
Secretary of State is not prepared to exercise discretion further.
Refugees and Asylum-Seekers
Those who have recognised refugee status or who have been granted exceptional
leave to remain in the U.K., as well as their family members, are allowed to work,
including voluntary work. For further information, contact the British Refugee
Council, 3 Bondway, Vauxhall, London SW8 1SJ, Telephone: 020 7820 3085,
As of April 2000, asylum seekers, i.e. those people in the process of applying for
refugee status, and their family members, are allowed to volunteer. This includes the
period whilst they are appealing against a decision to refuse them asylum. Asylum-
seekers can be reimbursed normal volunteer expenses. Home Office guidance states
that care should be taken to ensure that voluntary activity undertaken by an asylum-
seeker is genuinely voluntary and does not amount to either employment or job
substitution. If an asylum-seeker's application is still outstanding after 6 months, they
may apply for permission to work under a concession outside the Immigration Rules.
This is usually granted.
The National Asylum Support Service does not believe that
For a free guide to Section 8 of the Asylum and Immigration Act , contact the
Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), Web site: http://www.cre.gov.uk, E-mail:
Rules Applying To Other Categories Of Third Country National
Working holidaymakers: are permitted to volunteer.
Spouses of work permit holders: are permitted to volunteer.
As of mid-1999, students from outside the E.U. or European Economic Area, no
longer need permission to undertake part-time or holiday work, including
volunteering. Some restrictions remain in place, including a limit of 20 hours per
week during term- time, unless the college or university agrees otherwise.
For further information, contact the Immigration and Nationality Department,
Website: http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk Tel: 44 87.06.06.77.66.
Criminal Record Check and the Disclosure Service
Part V of the Police Act 1997 included measures that enable organisations in England
and Wales to obtain criminal record information about prospective employees and
volunteers from a centralised source. Criminal record checks – known as Disclosures
– will be carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau, a new executive agency of the
Home Office. Volunteers working with children or vulnerable adults should not be
required to pay a fee for access to their Disclosure
Standard and Enhanced Disclosures are now available from the CRB. At some point
in the future individuals will be able to obtain a Basic Disclosure. This will cover only
unspent convictions. It is possible that some employers will require all employees,
volunteers or applicants to provide a copy of a Basic Disclosure, even when their
work does not involve access to children, vulnerable adults, money or valuable
equipment. Volunteers will have to pay to obtain a Basic Disclosure.
After the introduction of the Basic Disclosure it will be an offence (under section 56
of the Data Protection Act 1998) for organisations to require applicants to run police
checks on themselves. This is often referred to as an application under Subject Access
or enforced subject access.
For the types of work where, under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974,
(Exceptions) Order 1975, spent convictions must be revealed - childcare, work
involving largely unsupervised access to people with disabilities or mental health
problems, or other vulnerable adults, work in residential care establishments, and
work in certain other professions, - the individual and a registered employer/umbrella
body will be able to apply jointly for Enhanced and Standard Disclosure.
Standard Disclosure is primarily for posts that involve working with children and
vulnerable adults, and will list unspent and spent convictions, cautions, reprimands
and final warnings.
For work involving far greater contact and largely unsupervised access to under-18s
or vulnerable adults, for instance jobs involving the caring, supervising, training or
being in sole charge of children and vulnerable adults, an Enhanced Disclosure will be
available. This is again simultaneously available to the individual and a relevant
Registered Body/Umbrella body. This will list not only unspent and spent convictions
and cautions, but also “soft intelligence” - other police information such as suspicions
that did not lead to a caution or conviction.
Applying for a Disclosure
If a standard or enhanced disclosure is required/requested of the applicant (i.e. the
volunteer or prospective employee) they will either be asked to contact the Disclosure
Line directly (0870 90 90 844) or supply the information on the Disclosure
Application Form. They will be asked to provide information that relates to them
personally to help the CRB confirm the identity of the applicant. The Disclosure
Application form must then be countersigned by the lead signatory at the
umbrella/registered body and delivered to the CRB.
Once the CRB have established the identity of the applicant a copy of either the
standard or enhanced Disclosure will be sent to both the applicant and the person who
countersigned the Disclosure Application form.
Disclosure certificates have no period of validity – they are only accurate up to the
date they were printed.
CRB Overseas Information Service
The CRB is only able to access information within the UK as part of its Disclosure
service. Nevertheless, the CRB recognises that many employers recruit individuals
from overseas, and that a CRB Disclosure may not provide a complete picture of any
conviction history that may or may not exist in respect of these individuals.
Overseas Enquiry Line
For overseas enquiries please contact 0870 0 100 450. This national rate enquiry line
is intended for those seeking general advice about the countries covered by the fax
back service, and associated procedures (e.g. fingerprinting). The enquiry line is
available Monday - Friday 9.00am-5.00pm. If an agent is unavailable, a voicemail
facility is available should customers require a 'call-back'.
An email enquiry facility is available for customers who may prefer to send their
queries electronically. The address is email@example.com. They endeavor to
reply to email enquiries within 5 working days.
Fax Back Service
The CRB has set up a fax back service providing information regarding the
availability of criminal record information from overseas.
The fax must be set to "polling" mode. How this is done depends on the fax machine.
After the fax machine is set to "polling" mode then dial the number appropriate to the
country that you are interested in. The information should be faxed back more or less
straight away. Calls are charged at £1.00 per minute.
At the moment the countries and their corresponding numbers for the service are:
0906 55 55000 Denmark
0906 55 55001 France
0906 55 55002 Germany
0906 55 55003 Irish Republic
0906 55 55005 Netherlands
0906 55 55006 Spain
0906 55 55007 Sweden
0906 55 55008 Poland
0906 55 55009 Canada
0906 55 55010 Jamaica
0906 55 55011 South Africa
0906 55 55012 Malaysia
0906 55 55013 Philippines
0906 55 55014 Australia
0906 55 55015 New Zealand
The fax back service is accurate as far as CRB is concerned however, there may be
other application routes. In many cases, the information provided by overseas
authorities may be in the language of the country to which the application was made.
It may therefore be necessary for customers to make use of translation services.
However, the CRB does not provide information about translation issues.
Fax Back Technical Helpline
The information given out is no more than 4 pages long and is self explanatory. Itouch
(the fax back service provider) provide a national rate help-line for technical problems
0870 906 3434
The CRB does not have any involvement in the processing of applications made by
individuals to overseas authorities and therefore will not be responsible for the
contents or the length of time taken for information to be returned.
Who should be checked?
There is an assumption by many volunteer using organisations that there is a statutory
requirement for all volunteers to produce a criminal record certificate before they start
any volunteering. This is categorically not the case. There is no general obligation to
apply for a criminal record check.
However other legislation may make it compulsory to check the lists held by
Department of Health (POCA & POVA lists) and the Department for Education and
Skills (List 99).
Requirements under existing regulations and under the new legislation cover
situations where an individual, acting in a paid, unpaid or voluntary capacity, may
pose a potential danger to others and vetting mechanisms are therefore warranted and
All service agencies, including those that involve volunteers, have a duty to minimise
the risks to vulnerable clients. The primary duty of Volunteer Development Agencies
is to advocate for volunteers. Volunteers have fewer rights, ways and means, or
reasons for challenging discrimination because there is no financial investment or
protection arising out of a contract of employment. Use of checks may act as a
deterrent to people deliberately seeking volunteering opportunities in order to abuse
the vulnerable, however the increased use of checks would deter people with non-
relevant convictions and could encourage irresponsible and discriminatory practice by
those organisations that place an undue reliance on the Disclosure Service.
3. GOVERNMENTAL ACTIONS TO SUPPORT AND PROMOTE THE
VOLUNTARY SECTOR AND VOLUNTEERING
In 1998, the U.K. saw the development of a series of Compacts, which aim to provide
a framework for relations between government and the voluntary and community
sector in the country.
Compact on Relations between Government and the Voluntary and Community
Sector in England.
The Compact on Relations between Government and the Voluntary and Community
Sector in England is an expression of the commitment of government and the
voluntary and community sector to work together for the betterment of society, and to
nurture and support voluntary and community activity.
The Compact sets out the key principles and undertakings, which should underpin the
relationship between the two, but is not a legally binding document. Key principles
include recognition that voluntary action is an essential component of any democratic
society, that government and the voluntary sector have distinct but complementary
roles, and that consultation improves policy development and enhances design and
delivery of services and programmes. The government undertakes, among other
things to recognise and support the independence of the sector, pay attention to
proportionality, targeting consistency and transparency in government funding,
consult the sector and promote effective working relationships. The voluntary and
community sector undertakes to maintain high standards of governance and conduct
and to ensure service users, volunteers, members and supporters are informed and
consulted about government consultations. The document also sets out procedures for
resolving disagreements between the two.
The Compact includes five supplementary codes:
Volunteering: A Code of Good Practice
Consultation and Policy Appraisal: A Code of Good Practice
Black and Ethnic Voluntary and community Organisations: A Code of Good
Funding: A Code of Good Practice
Local Compact Guidelines: Getting Local relationships Right Together
The Volunteering Code of Good Practice outlines the importance of volunteering, sets
out the undertakings of both government and the voluntary and community sector and
aims to enable more people to become involved in the varied forms of voluntary
activity that are a vital part of active citizenship and offer them the necessary support.
For a copy of the Compact and the five supplementary codes, please visit
The Compact between Government and the Voluntary Sector in Scotland
The Compact between Government and the Voluntary Sector in Scotland was
launched in October 1998. It lays down a framework of principles covering the
working relationship between central government and its agencies in Scotland and the
voluntary sector and volunteering interests, including community organisations. It
describes commitments by government and the voluntary sector under the five
headings of Recognition, Representation, Partnership, Resources and Implementation.
In June 2000, the Scottish Executive published the Scottish Compact Good Practice
Guides advising Executive Departments, Non-Departmental Public Bodies and
government agencies on how to implement the commitments in principle made in the
Contact the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) for further
The Voluntary Sector Partnership Council (VSPC) in Wales
The Voluntary Sector Partnership Council (VSPC) and Ministerial meetings are key
mechanism for maintaining formal dialogue between the voluntary sector and the
Wales National Assembly.
Key achievements of the VPSC include the pub lication of the Welsh Assembly
Government‟s Code of Practice for Funding the Voluntary Sector and the provision of
baseline information on Assembly direct and indirect funding of the voluntary sector
– invaluable for enabling the sector to monitor its relationship with government.
The Ministerial meetings are valued by the voluntary sector as an opportunity for
regular dialogue with Ministers as well as an opportunity to contribute to policy
development. Specific outcomes and positive developments include, among others,
the voluntary sector involvement in the education for sustainable development panel
and the Assembly‟s Building Strong Bridges project, to propose increased voluntary
involvement sector in health.
Building Strong Bridges is the culmination of a six- month project by the Welsh
Assembly Government, working with WCVA and the voluntary sector. The report
outlines 23 recommendations to response to the consultation on Structural Change in
the National Health System in Wales. If implemented, the recommendations will
make a significant difference to the relationship between the voluntary sector working
on the field of health, well-being and social care, and statutory partners.
For further information on Wales relations with the Wales National Assemb ly contact
The Compact between Government and the Voluntary and Community Sector in
This Compact, called Building Real Partnership, is a jointly-prepared, agreed
statement of the general principles and the shared values which governs the
development of the relationship between Government and the voluntary and
community sector in Northern Ireland. The Compact applies to the relationship in
Northern Ireland between Government (both central and local, including
Departments, non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs), statutory agencies, and
District Councils) and the voluntary and community sector (which includes voluntary
and community organisations and those who volunteer in those organisations and in
The text of the Compact can be found at:
Clarifies different roles in the relationship between Government and the
voluntary and community sector.
Establishes the shared values and principles that underpin the partnership
between Government and the voluntary and community sector.
Identifies the commitments to ensure that the values and principles within the
Compact govern the relationships between Government and the voluntary and
The Compact also contains a Code of Practice on Volunteering, which can be found
Government Funding To Support Volunteering
In the United Kingdom, volunteering is a devolved responsibility of the government
administrations ain England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. In each country
the national development agencies, and a number of other volunteering organisations,
are strategically funded by government.
Specific volunteering programmes introduced by government include:
The Millennium Volunteers Programme is a U.K. government-funded initiative to
encourage and support volunteering among young people between the ages of 16-
24.The programme began in 1997.
The Millennium Volunteers Programme aims to:
Offer challenging and interesting volunteering opportunities;
Enable young people to acquire new skills and knowledge and develop
Increase recognition of volunteering by young people in the co mmunity
Set a standard for volunteering opportunities;
Make a positive impact within local communities;
Encourage ownership of the programme by young people.
Young volunteers must complete 200 hours of voluntary work in one year, in return
for which they receive a certificate signed by the Secretary of State for Education and
Skills which recognises them as a Millennium Volunteer. See:
TimeBank is a high profile national campaign, funded by the U.K. government to
raise awareness of volunteering and make it easier for people to give their time to the
local community. It uses web-based technology to match the interests, skills and
availability of volunteers (who are known as TimeGivers) with a range of volunteer
opportunities around the U.K., see: http://www.timebank.org.uk/
4. FINAL REMARKS
Voluntary activity enjoys a long tradition in the United Kingdom. Consequently,
awareness of its importance and value to individuals, communities and society is
fairly high. This is reflected in long traditions of good practice by organisations in the
involvement of volunteers, such as the reimbursement of all out-of-pocket expenses,
adequate health and safety coverage while volunteering, etc. More recently, the U.K.
has seen the creation of a series of “Compacts” on relations between the government
and voluntary and community sector, which attempts to lay down a framework for
mutual support, respect and responsibility, including good practice guidelines on
volunteering. Nevertheless, it must be stated that there is no legal obligation on
volunteer- involving organisations (or the government) to fulfil the above- mentioned
measures. All measures remain voluntary, therefore in many ways volunteers still
remain unprotected. In addition, the above-mentioned case law indicates that legal
uncertainty can persist in relation to the “volunteer vs. employee” debate.
However, the United Kingdom is one of the only countries of Europe to issue specific
“volunteer visas” to volunteers coming to the U.K. from abroad, and the “Compact”
although not a legally binding instrument is an important first step in recognising and
valuing the voluntary and community sector, and volunteers. The U.K. government
has also, more recently, stepped up support for volunteer programmes, in particular
the Millenium Volunteers Programme, which enjoys enormous success nationally and
is increasingly recognised as a valuable tool for young people to gain skills and
experiences, whilst contributing to individuals and local communities.
5. USEFUL CONTACTS
Volunteering England Information Service,
8 All Saints Street,
London N1 9RL
Tel: 44 207 520 8900
Fax: 44 207 620 8910
Volunteer Development Scotland
Stirling Enterprise Park,
Stirling FK7 7RP
Tel: 44 1786 47 95 93
Fax: 44 1786 449 285
Wales Council for Voluntary Action
Mount Stuart Square,
Cardiff CF10 5FH
Tel: 44 2920 431 700
Fax: 44 2920 431 701
Volunteer Development Agency, Northern Ireland
58 Howard Street
Belfast BF1 6PG
Tel: 44 28 9023 6100
Fax: 44 28 9023 7570
Other Useful References:
“The Commission on the Future of the Voluntary Sector, Meeting the
Challenge of Change: Voluntary Action into the 21st Century”, 1996, London:
NCVO, p 76;
“Volunteering - The Long Arm Of The Law”, The International Journal of
Not-for-Profit Law - Volume 2, Issue 4 Debra Morris, Charity Law Unit,
University of Liverpool.
(Last Updated: June 2003)
The “Legal Status of Volunteers Project” has been jointly managed by the European
Volunteer Centre (CEV), and the Association of Voluntary Service Organisations
(AVSO). For further information, please contact Project Managers, Gail Hurley (CEV)
and Jana Hainsworth (AVSO) on:
European Volunteer Centre, Brussels 1000,
Rue de la Science 10, Belgium.
Brussels 1000, Tel: 32 2 230 68 13
Belgium. Fax: 32 2 231 14 13
Tel: 32 2 511 75 01 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax: 32 2 514 59 89 Website: http://www.avso.org
Association of Voluntary Service
Rue Joseph II 174,