In UK law, volunteers do not have a legal status in the same way that paid workers do: they are not covered by:
Legal protection for unfair dismissal
Equal opportunities legislation
Or National Minimum Wage legislation
What does this mean?
If something were to go wrong during your volunteering, volunteers don’t have the right to have an organisation follow proper investigative procedures or the right to appeal a decision made by the organisation.
You have the right to complain or walk away. We’d encourage you to submit a complaint first to give the organisation the chance to investigate and make improvements for their volunteers. Depending on the nature of the complaint, you may feel it necessary to submit it to the Police for investigation.
Other things to be aware of:
- Be alert to organisations inadvertently creating an employment contract
- A contract is a description of a relationship between the individual and the organisation and does not have to be written down
An organisation should not:
- Create obligations for you
- Issue penalties, for example, if you don’t turn up
An organisation should:
- Talk about expectations of the role
- Only reimburse out-of-pocket expenses
- Only provide training relevant to the role
If an employment contract is put in place, employment law will be deemed to be relevant to you.