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Pay and expenses for volunteers

There are many rewarding opportunities for volunteering available across the UK. It is a popular misconception that only young people volunteer, however, people of all ages volunteer for numerous roles in a wide range of charitable and other sectors.

There is no official minimum or maximum age for volunteering. However, the following points should be taken into account:

  • Certain organisations’ insurance policies don’t cover volunteers if under 16 or over a certain age (usually 80), and
  • A young person under 14 cannot work for a profit-making organisation even if the work is unpaid.

Many organisations have a volunteer agreement which explains:

  • the level of supervision and support you’ll get;
  • what training you’ll get;
  • whether you’re covered under the organisation’s employer or public liability insurance;
  • health and safety issues;
  • any expenses the organisation will cover.

The volunteer agreement isn't compulsory. The role of volunteer is usually unpaid and the usual legal protections for employees will not apply. Volunteers are not covered by employment law and do not have formal rights for redress in an Employment Tribunal.

Planning note:

A volunteer can continue to receive benefits if the only money they receive is to cover expenses. This is usually limited to food, drink, travel or any required equipment. If a volunteer receives any other payment they may be classed as an employee or worker and would then have employment rights including an entitlement to the minimum wage.