Voluntary Work: Conditions of Employment

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy written question – answered on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Lord Carlile of Berriew Lord Carlile of Berriew Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to extend employment legislation to give volunteers in voluntary organisations the same protection rights as those available to paid employees.

Photo of Lord Duncan of Springbank Lord Duncan of Springbank Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office), Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

In general, employment law (for example through the Employment Rights Act 1996) provides protection to ‘employees’ or ‘workers’. Many volunteers are not employees or workers, and so do not have the same legal status and protections as paid employees or workers. However, depending on the details of the volunteering arrangement, it is possible for volunteers to be workers in some cases. Some guidance on the definition of a worker is provided on the gov.uk website..

The government has consulted on whether volunteers are adequately protected by the protections within the Equality Act 2010, and responses to that consultation are currently being considered.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is also working with charities and the charity regulator to encourage safe cultures within charities that protect volunteers.

The gov.uk website explains what rights a volunteer may have.

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