Example question and answer submitted by panel member, Stephanie Merritt, Associate at Paris Smith LLP – Nov 2012
Although there is no single statutory definition of a ‘volunteer’, essentially a volunteer is an individual engaged in an activity which involves spending time, unpaid, doing something which aims to benefit a third party. Volunteers do not qualify for statutory employment rights. However, due to the range of volunteer relationships that exist, the distinction between ‘volunteer’, ‘worker’ and ‘employee’ often becomes blurred. The key consideration will be whether or not there is a contract between the organisation and its volunteers. If a contract exists it is likely to be one changing the legal status of your volunteers to that of protected employee or worker.