Volunteer organisations

Volunteers and volunteer organisations

Volunteers work without being paid a wage or salary.

Volunteers participate in many areas of society, including community health care, heritage and arts, environment and conservation, emergency services, education, social justice and sports.

They perform an essential range of activities, from providing support services to coaching and mentoring, and from collecting donations to serving as volunteer directors.

Volunteer associations

A volunteer association is a group of volunteers working together for one or more community purposes that may be incorporated or unincorporated and does not  employ any ‘workers’.

Volunteer associations without paid workers do not have work health and safety (WHS) duties for their volunteers under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) as they are not considered a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking‘ (PCBU – the new term that includes employers).

For example, a local sporting association that coaches or referees a junior sports match on a Saturday morning does not have WHS duties if it does not employ the coaches or referees.

Volunteer organisations with paid workers

A volunteer organisation with paid workers is regarded as a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking‘ (PCBU).

As a PCBU, this type of volunteer organisation has responsibilities under the WHS Act, including a primary duty of care to ensure its workers (paid employees and volunteers) are not exposed to any risk to their health and safety.

Volunteer directors and officers of a PCBU

Volunteers serving as officers of a volunteer organisation that employs paid workers must exercise due diligence to ensure the volunteer organisation complies with its duties.

For example, a volunteer officer serving on the board of a PCBU such as a not for profit childcare centre is considered an officer of that childcare centre. As an officer, they must exercise due diligence to ensure the childcare centre complies with its work health and safety duties.

Volunteer officers of associations (including unincorporated associations) that do not employ any paid workers do not have the duties of an officer under the WHS Act.

Payments made to volunteers

Payments for direct out of pocket expenses, such as travel, meals and incidentals, incurred directly when carrying out volunteer work are not regarded as wages or salary.

However, payments for carrying out volunteer work would constitute a wage or salary and mean that the person is not a volunteer.

Call 13 10 50 for more information about the WHS responsibilities of volunteers and volunteer associations.



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