Your Rights as a Volunteer
As a volunteer your rights differ to those of someone who is employed on a full or part time basis.
From an age point of view you may not engage in any kind of work paid or otherwise for a voluntary organisation under the age of 14. Once over the age of 14 you may be allowed to work some hours but not as many as someone who is 16 or over.
Health and SafetyAs a volunteer member of the team or workforce, you have the same health and safety rights as someone who works in a paid role for the organisation. You should not be put at any more risk than a paid member of staff and as such you have the legal right to refuse to partake in any activity that a regular member of staff would refuse to do.
Privacy and Data ProtectionAgain you have the same rights here as employees working for the company or organisation you are volunteering with. Your information should remain private and confidential and should not be shared with anyone under the guidelines laid down by the Data Protection Act. Any breach of this should be handled in the same way it would be handled in the case of a regular employee.
SalaryAs a volunteer you are not entitled to be paid a salary. Given the circumstances surrounding your volunteer work however, you may be eligible for expenses such as travelling expenses or those incurred in the procurement of equipment or specialist clothing for the work you will undertake.
The issue of expenses should be handled in the same way as it would be for a full time member of staff and you have a legal obligation – if it is so denoted in any staff handbooks – to seek expenses if the company accepts that you are entitled to them. Expenses also include any Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), searches which may need to be undertaken given the nature of your volunteer work.
Additional informationAt the time you begin working for the organisation should be given an employee handbook which will set out clearly what rules and regulations apply to you as a volunteer. This handbook – given to you during or shortly after you have completed your induction - will also detail the nature of any disciplinary procedures that may be in place.
If you are not given an employee handbook or list of specific guidelines you should ask your supervisor or mentor if you can have a copy. This handbook will also detail what rights the other members of staff have and how you can instigate disciplinary proceedings should any issue involving you requires it necessary.