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Legal Facts

Legal Facts

Volunteers enrich and enhance our community services and without them, many resources would not be available within our local communities. As community groups and organisations, we understand the importance of utilising the skills and knowledge of volunteers so keeping them safe and upholding our ‘duty of care’ is important. We have created a list of legal facts and best practise for you as volunteer managers to be aware of:

Employment Law: It is important to officially make a distinction between volunteers ad employees especially within your policies and procedures to reduce the risk of volunteers enacting employee status

Examples of language change to differentiate:

  • Volunteer agreement not contract
  • Role description not job description
  • Reimbursement not payment


DBS: Organisations can only apply for DBS checks if role is eligible. No blanket checks.

Non-EU individuals:  Are ble to volunteer as long as personal immigration conditions allow it

Young People:  Any young person over 14 volunteering for a profit making organisation will, by law, require a work permit

Expenses:  Volunteers receiving more than ‘out of pocket’ expenses could be classed as income and therefore taxable and could stop payments to volunteers currently claiming state benefits

Risk Assessments: You have a legal duty of care to your  volunteers regardless of the size, income and if the organisation has paid staff so need up to date risk assessments and insurance

  • Need to be aware that there are certain groups requiring special risk assessments:
  • Young Volunteers under 18
  • Pregnant volunteers
  • Volunteers with learning disabilities
  • Volunteers with physical disabilities or mental health issues
  • Elderly volunteers experiencing diminishing physical or mental faculties

​​​​​​​Insurance: By law, the only insurance you are required to have is Employer’s liability insurance which will cover employees and volunteers. You must check volunteers are included as this is not always a given.

The list provided is a short overview of more in depth subjects. If you would like to explore these subjects further, we offer a half day training session covering the above topics and more.

Please note: the information provide is for guideline purposes only and is not intended to be legally comprehensive. The intent is to provide guidance in good faith without accepting liability.