Is a volunteer entitled to the national living wage? This question recently came to us, and this is our answer. 

"Volunteers” are not entitled to the national minimum or living wage. To be entitled someone must be a “worker”, which means working under a contract to personally provide work.

The status of the worker/volunteer is not determined by the words used and there are a number of nuances to consider.

The volunteers/workers in this situation are probably not workers, but it could be helpful to look at some of the contract terms in a little more detail to be sure of this. Things to look for that might indicate ‘worker’ status include:

  • if the parties intended to create a binding contract, then they may well have created one. (Where this is not clear, it will often come down to the tone of the agreement.)
  • if the organiser paid the worker, there may be a contract. Payment may include non-monetary benefits, for example perks at the event. A few perks typically won’t imply a worker-relationship, but the greater the perks or other benefit, the more likely it is that the individual will have grounds to argue that they’re a worker.
  • if the identity of the individual is important to the conduct of the work, this may sway the arrangement in favour of being treated as a worker contract.
  • how much control the organiser has over the activities of the worker. The more control that is exerted by the organiser over the way the volunteer works, the more likely it is that he/she will be considered a worker and therefore entitled to national minimum/national wage.