Volunteers

Volunteers

Are volunteers employees?

No. The common law defines a volunteer as someone who performs unpaid work for another, and who is not party to a contract of employment. There is no contract of employment because the volunteers receives no wages and the volunteer is not obliged to perform (but merely chooses to do so).

However, the distinction between a volunteer and an employee is not always clear. If the worker has clearly delineated duties, has worked for the business for a long time, and is remunerated in some other manner than wages, courts may find that an employment relationship exists.

Because volunteers are not employees at law, they do not have the same rights afforded to employees, such as an entitlement to wages and protection against unfair dismissal. But