Can a volunteer have 'worker' status?

This month, the Employment Appeals Tribunal decided that a volunteer can be a worker if they are entitled to be remunerated for their activities.

Mr Martin volunteered for the Costal Rescue Service (CRS). It has about 3500 volunteers, who agree to follow a volunteer handbook. Some volunteers claim expenses and compensation for unsociable hour call outs.

The EAT decided there is no definition of "volunteer" and that volunteer status will differ depending on the particular arrangement between the parties. This means that it was irrelevant that sums were not paid automatically and some volunteers did not claim them. It concluded that a contract came into existence when a volunteer attended a relevant activity for which they had a right to remuneration. A volunteer's attendance was governed by a Code of Conduct which set minimum levels of attendance at training and rescue incidents. Those factors gave rise to a contract for the provision of services, and Mr Martin was therefore a 'worker' entitled to relevant statutory protection.

If you need any help with your volunteer agreements, please contact us.

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