National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage - volunteers and voluntary workers

Definition of volunteers for National Minimum Wage and Living Wage purposes

Guide

Volunteers do not qualify for the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage because they are not workers. They do not have any employment contract or contract to perform work or provide services.

The job title or label an individual is given is not conclusive in determining whether someone is a volunteer or a worker. An individual who considers themselves a volunteer may in fact be a worker if the arrangements under which they provide their services amount to a contract of employment or a contract to personally perform work or services.

If an individual described as a volunteer was in fact a worker (see below), they would qualify for the minimum wage unless a specific exemption applied. For more information see National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage - who is not entitled to it or National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage - who must be paid it.

Volunteers can volunteer for anybody, not just organisations in the not-for-profit sector.

Volunteer agreements

You may have written agreements with your volunteers or may have written to them with confirmation letters, for instance outlining:

  • the ethos of your organisation
  • opening hours or attendance expectations
  • what is expected of them
  • your organisation's rules and procedures
  • insurance indemnity provisions for them

As long as these agreements are intended to clarify the reasonable expectations of the volunteer and your organisation and are clearly not intended to amount to an employment contract or a contract to personally perform work or services, they will not make the individual a worker and entitled to be paid the minimum wage.

If a legally binding employment contract arises, the individual would be entitled to the National Minimum Wage, unless a specific exemption applied.

Imposing a requirement on an individual to comply with a statutory obligation such as health and safety, or providing health and safety training, would not on its own, result in the individual being classed as a worker and entitled to the minimum wage.