National Volunteer Week will be commemorated in Australia from 15 – 21 May 2023.

Over 3 million Queenslanders volunteer 900 million hours of their time each year. This has an extraordinary benefit to our communities, to our families and to the environment.

However, are there any matters to consider at your workplace if you have any volunteers?

Generally speaking, there is no specific definition of a volunteer in any particular law or legislation.

A volunteer is generally defined as a person who provides services for a charity or other entity for free.

It will generally be found to be a volunteer relationship if:

  • The parties did not intend to create a legally binding relationship
  • The person is under no obligation to attend the workplace or perform work
  • The person does not expect to be paid for their work

The organisation that is being assisted by the volunteer owes to the volunteer a duty to ensure that reasonable steps are taken to prevent injury.   All organisations should think carefully about insurance. Workers compensation insurance generally covers employees only.  Ensure that other people at your workplace are covered. Do you have a policy for volunteer personal accident insurance?

It is important to note that the law applies differently to different ‘categories’ of people in the workplace. Being clear about a person’s status helps protect the rights and safety or people involved in your organisation.

Wrongly classifying someone may be a financial risk for your organization. Seek advice early if you are unsure about the basis on which you engage a person to do work.

If you or your organisation have any questions regarding the law around volunteers, or if you require any assistance with policies or training, please let us know.  We would be happy to assist.