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

The minimum wage: workers, voluntary workers and volunteers

Guide

It is important to understand the difference between workers, voluntary workers and volunteers for National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage purposes. The different types of individuals have different rights to be paid the minimum wage. For both workers and voluntary workers an employment contract can either be written or oral.

 
  Characteristics Employer Qualify for minimum wage
Volunteer Not a worker A volunteer does not have an employer for minimum wage purposes Does not qualify
Worker Works under an employment contract or a contract to personally perform work or provide services Any employer or organisation Qualifies, unless a specific exemption applies
Voluntary worker Works under an employment contract or a contract personally to perform work or provide services Charity, voluntary organisation, associated fund raising body or statutory body Does not qualify due to a specific exemption provided certain criteria are met

Record keeping

If you engage volunteers there is no obligation to keep specific records for minimum wage purposes. However, in the event of a disputed claim, you may find it useful to have basic details such as the names of volunteers, hours volunteered and any payments given to individuals (such as expenses). You should always be able to explain how you arrived at the level of any estimated expenses reimbursed.

For more information see National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage - record keeping.

Tax and benefits implications

If a volunteer or voluntary worker gets any money or benefits in kind for volunteering apart from out of pocket expenses there may also be tax and National Insurance implications and repercussions for people who are claiming benefits.