Audit Secure TV, Human Resources, Payroll

Pryor Learning Solutions Vlog #12: Is the Use of Volunteers Legal or Not?

In this video, Lisa Smith discusses the basics of legally using volunteers in the workplace.

Until Next Time, Be Audit Secure!

Lisa Smith

*This video first appeared on the Fred Pryor Seminars / Pryor Learning Solutions YouTube site: https://youtu.be/v1qkIhcO1T8


Have you ever had a fundraiser or a special event? Maybe you’re going to set up a table at the county fair and exhibit your business and answer questions and collect leads. And you think, “If I just had a few employees kind of come in and help, they could take different shifts.”

“Maybe this one will take the morning. This one will take the afternoon. This will take the evening. They only have to dedicate a few hours on Saturday, and it’s for a good cause.”

“So we don’t have to pay them for that. Right? They can volunteer for that. We can put out a sign-in sheet, and they can just sign up for whatever shifts they want to volunteer to cover for us during this special event.”

No. You can’t do that at all. As good as that just sounded and as often as that does occur, keep in mind that activity in the private sector is highly illegal. Even for a non-profit organization who has a paid employee, that still may be an illegal form of volunteerism for that non-profit.

Remember, any time a person does anything that furthers the exposure, the promotion, the benefit of your business, those activities are considered to be paid hours worked. So if your worker has already hit 40 hours for the week, then that’s going to be overtime. Keep in mind, a true volunteer is only found in the non-profit sector and also sometimes in the public sector.

But in private sector employment, volunteerism does not exist. So think about that– OK– very, very carefully. That’s such serious stuff.

And even if you say it’s not mandatory and they say, “Oh, I’ll do it anyway. You don’t have to pay me,” a majority of the time– almost all of the time– that’s still illegal. An employee is not allowed to sign away or give away or waive their right to fair treatment under the law.

So by allowing a worker to do that and by saying, “Oh, we had an agreement,” we’re, in effect, taking advantage of the good nature of a worker– allowing them to allow us to treat them illegally. Keep it in mind. No volunteers unless you truly are a non-profit and you follow those specific guidelines or you’re in the public sector– city-, state-, county-type government– and you follow very specific guidelines there as well.

Remember, when the chips are down, nobody’s audit-proof. But if you work hard to obey the law, you can be audit-secure. I’m Lisa Smith. See you next time.


Purchasers, readers, or users of this blog post agree to be bound by the following terms: Information contained in this blog post has been obtained by Pryor Learning Solutions from sources believed to be reliable. The subject is constantly evolving, and the information provided is not exhaustive. The advice and strategies contained should not be used as a substitute for consulting with a qualified professional where professional assistance is required or appropriate, or where there may be any risk to health or property. In no event will Pryor Learning Solutions or any of its respective affiliates, distributors, employees, agents, content contributors, or licensors be liable or responsible for damages including direct, indirect, special, consequential, incidental, punitive, exemplary losses, or damages and expenses including business interruption, loss of profits, lost business, or lost savings. For purposes of illustrating concepts and techniques described in this course, the author has created fictitious names; mailing, e-mail, and internet addresses; phone numbers and fax numbers; and similar information. Any resemblance of this fictitious data that is similar to an actual person or organization is unintentional and purely coincidental.

LKSWritten by Lisa Smith

Lisa Smith is CEO of Andere Development, LLC and the Chief Content Officer at BeAuditSecure.com. She is a compliance expert and the author of the line of HelpDesk compliance tool-kits that assist employers in understanding requirements and maintaining compliance with employment related laws. Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, and listen to her Small Business Spoonfuls Podcast each week on iTunes or Stitcher.

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