Voluntary work

Voluntary work is a contract involving two parties. Voluntary work is not compulsory, is not paid, and thus falls outside permanent employment. It is not private, but neither is paid employment. A volunteer is not an employee, entrepreneur or hands-on trainee.

Moreover, a volunteer cannot be paid for his work, neither with a salary nor with a fee. If he does receive any form of payment, he leaves the land of the volunteers and enters the juridical territory of the employment contract or assignment.

Checklist voluntary work

If you set down the agreements in writing, you have made things clear for one another beforehand – a major advantage compared with oral agreements.

If you perform voluntary work yourself

  1. Activities
    What will your activities be, what is expected of you, how often, when and/or during which period? How is the termination of your voluntary work arranged? Who supervises you?
  2. Expense allowance
    Volunteers can never receive a salary or a fee, but they can receive an allowance. The organisation you work for can give you a tax-free allowance of max. €2,75 per hour if you are younger than 22 and €5,00 if you are older. There is a maximum of €170 per month and €1700 per year.
  3. Liability and insurance
    The organisation or person for whom you perform voluntary work is liable if you suffer harm (accident) and if you cause it yourself. An exception is made for intentional damage or deliberately reckless behaviour, which is not covered by any insurance policy. Is there a company third-party liability insurance for you as a volunteer? A private third-party liability insurance does not cover damage to or by volunteers.
  4. Health and Safety Act
    The Health and Safety Act also applies to volunteers. Exception: if you work for an organisation that has no paid employees at all, or only a paid employee who works less than 40 hours a week, the Health and Safety Act is only partly applicable. In that case it applies only to very serious risks such as the risk of falling (from a stage, for example), dangerous substances and professional fireworks.

If you or your organisation use volunteers
All of the above considerations apply in reverse. Important: You may find you have brought in a volunteer before you know it! You should realise that this has consequences for liability and insurance.