Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Veggies

Question: Do unpaid volunteers enjoy the same legal protection as other employees?

Answer: As a general rule, yes.

Brief explanation: All workers, including unpaid volunteers, have a constitutional right to fair labour practices. Yet, "unpaid employees working for charitable organisations" are specifically excluded from the provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) (Section 3). On the face of it, these volunteers enjoy no protection whatsoever. Even child labour seems to be permissible. Does that mean that unpaid persons working for charitable organisations may be exploited by, for example, being required to work excessive hours? The answer is obviously ‘no’, because then it cannot be argued that they are truly working ‘voluntarily’.

The situation with volunteer workers who work for organisations that are not charitable organisations is more straightforward. By implication these workers enjoy the same protections under the BCEA as other employees (except that they are not entitled to pay).

Other labour legislation, such as the Labour Relations Act (LRA), does not specifically exclude any volunteer workers. They could be regarded as employees, even where they are unpaid, but “assist in the carrying on or running of the business”. As such they be would – at least in theory – be entitled to the same protections as other employees. It is difficult to imagine what employers can do to attract adverse consequences for employers of volunteer workers. However, as mentioned before, unpaid volunteer workers also have a constitutional right to fair labour practices – the LRA and other labour legislation would therefore be interpreted ‘purposively’ in this regard (which means to give effect to the constitution).

Where volunteer workers are paid a stipend, matters become a bit more interesting – see the article at http://www.labourwise.co.za/labour-articles/volunteers.

In conclusion, it would be advisable for employers to treat volunteer workers at least as fairly as all other.

Article provided by Jan Truter from Labourwise

www.labourwise.co.za is an on-line labour relations service aimed at assisting employers with the implementation of effective labour relations. They can be contacted via the website or info@labourwise.co.za.

 

 

Work performance and sales targetsWork performance and sales targetshttp://www.sanlam.co.za/businessblog/articles/Pages/work-performance-and-sales-targets.aspxhttp://www.sanlam.co.za/businessblog/PublishingImages/WorkPerformance_ArticleBlogBanner.jpg, /businessblog/PublishingImages/WorkPerformance_ArticleBlogBanner.jpg9/7/2017 12:42:39 PM0124aspx2350http://www.sanlam.co.za/businessblog/articles/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx2017-09-06T22:00:00ZIt is not often that a dispute about dismissal for poor performance reaches the Labour Appeal Court. Dismissing an employee for poor work performance is more challenging than dismissing an employee for misconduct.
How to build lasting business relationshipsHow to build lasting business relationshipshttp://www.sanlam.co.za/businessblog/articles/Pages/lasting-business-relationships.aspxhttp://www.sanlam.co.za/businessblog/PublishingImages/lasting_businessBanner.jpg, /businessblog/PublishingImages/lasting_businessBanner.jpg4/19/2018 12:09:06 PM0208aspx1251http://www.sanlam.co.za/businessblog/articles/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx2018-04-18T22:00:00ZIn a world where time is of the essence and results the only benchmark of success, it is difficult to develop enduring business relationships. The golden thread is the authenticity of the relationship; or, how genuine the business association is.

 Related Posts

 

 

The right to an interpreter in a disciplinary hearingThe right to an interpreter in a disciplinary hearinghttp://www.sanlam.co.za/businessblog/articles/Pages/the-right-to-an-interpreter-in-a-disciplinary-hearing.aspxhttp://www.sanlam.co.za/businessblog/PublishingImages/interpreter-banner.jpg, /businessblog/PublishingImages/interpreter-banner.jpg10/8/2018 9:37:20 AM041891aspx541http://www.sanlam.co.za/businessblog/articles/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx2018-10-07T22:00:00ZA recent Labour Court judgement has highlighted the importance of respecting an employee’s home language in disciplinary proceedings.
No water, no work - must employees be paid?No water, no work - must employees be paid?http://www.sanlam.co.za/businessblog/articles/Pages/no-water-no-work.aspxhttp://www.sanlam.co.za/businessblog/PublishingImages/NoWater_ArticleBlogBanner.jpg, /businessblog/PublishingImages/NoWater_ArticleBlogBanner.jpg11/16/2017 7:58:10 AM080241aspx2812http://www.sanlam.co.za/businessblog/articles/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx2017-11-15T22:00:00ZSome businesses need water in order to function. The prevailing drought in the Western Cape has led to interruptions, which may result in employees not being able to work. Are the employees entitled to be paid?

 Most Read

Sanlam Life Insurance is a licensed financial service provider.
Copyright © Sanlam