Supreme court confirms that volunteers are not employees

12 December 2012
Supreme court confirms that volunteers are not employees

The supreme court has confirmed that volunteers do not have any employment rights under European law.

Therefore volunteers are not able to make employment claims such as unfair dismissal or discrimination in tribunal.

The ruling is significant since it creates no additional legal responsibilities for employers in how they manage volunteers. Commentators argue that volunteering is effectively self-regulating: organisations which treat volunteers poorly struggle to attract and retain skilled volunteers.

Separate to this, employers should be careful to ensure that volunteers are managed so that an employment relationship is not inadvertently created, for example, through the mismanagement of volunteer expense reimbursement or volunteer reward.

Volunteering England's Volunteers and the Law provides an in-depth introduction to this area.

For more information, see the volunteering section of HRBird.

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