How to organise voluntary work
Voluntary work means unremunerated work carried out for the benefit of individual people or organisations. In other words, such work does not generally involve any monetary compensation.
Voluntary work can be organised by registered associations, local authorities, the central government, business enterprises or other organisations, etc. Voluntary activities should be characterised by pursuit of public-interest objectives. The activities may be related to people’s wellbeing, nature, environmental protection, crisis response, rescue operations, provision of route, parking or museum guidance, services for elderly people, child and youth work, art, sports or physical exercise, etc.
By way of example, a local authority may organise ‘Park Pals’ activities, where people can volunteer to tidy up and look after their neighbourhood parks.
While selecting participants, the organiser must not discriminate against anyone on grounds such as age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, origin or nationality.
As a general rule, voluntary work is carried out without pay or any other compensation. The work carried out by volunteers must not be dangerous or risk their health or wellbeing. The amount of work should be reasonable, while the tasks should be suitable for volunteers. Any work carried out by people aged under 18 must be light.
Voluntary work should not be used to substitute for any work that should be carried out through regular employment or self-employment.
Organisers of voluntary work are entitled to define the types of skills required from people selected for specific tasks. Some organisers require volunteers to be at least 18 years of age.
A Food Hygiene Proficiency Certificate (‘Hygiene Passport’) is seldom required for voluntary work. However, a Hygiene Passport is required for food services, if a volunteer is going to work in a professional capacity on food premises for a period of more than three months, or if the organiser requires one.
The organiser of voluntary work may appoint a contact person responsible for supervision of volunteers and work arrangements. Volunteers must be provided with orientation or training for their tasks.
The organiser is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of volunteers as far as possible.
Many organisers take out accident and travel insurance for their volunteers. Organisers may also take out insurance against civil liability. Volunteers must be informed of their insurance cover and their own responsibilities.
If a volunteer is going to work with children or young people on a regular basis, the organiser is entitled to check the volunteer’s criminal background before the work begins. The organiser must ask the volunteer’s consent to request an extract from criminal records.
Any request for an extract from criminal records should always be related to a specific task, rather than to the person performing it or to his or her personal characteristics. Applications for extracts should be made in writing to the Legal Register Centre.
Voluntary work may involve costs that may be reimbursed to volunteers. Examples of such costs include travel and accommodation expenses.
For voluntary work carried out for a non-profit organisation, accommodation and per-diem allowances may be paid free of tax for up to 20 days per calendar year. Any expenses arising from travel between a volunteer’s home and the place where voluntary work is performed may also be reimbursed. The maximum tax-exempt amount that may be reimbursed for expenses arising from travel by means other than public transport is EUR 3,000 per calendar year.