Volunteering New Zealand and the wider volunteering sector welcome news this morning that an Auckland District Court judge has awarded ACC coverage to a volunteer as a result of a mental injury sustained during the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Volunteering New Zealand regularly receives analogous queries from volunteers who would otherwise be afforded protection under the Employment Relations Act (2000) or Accident Compensation Act 2001. Due to their unpaid status, volunteers cannot currently obtain legal support to receive more general ACC coverage or receive mediation on disputes and/or personal grievances.

“Unpaid workers (i.e. volunteers) in New Zealand have very few legislative protections compared with their paid-equivalents, and while this ACC case is somewhat exceptional, it provides hope for greater protections for volunteers going forward” states Scott Miller, Chief Executive of Volunteering New Zealand.

Only recently, under s 19(3) of the Health and Safety at Work Act (2015) has there been a significant legal assimilation of the protections afforded to ‘volunteer workers’ consistent with paid-workers. “Until the ERA and ACC Acts are modernised in line with the Health and Safety at Work Act, the value of volunteer-workers to this country will remain under-legitimised and under recognised,” adds Miller.

Volunteering New Zealand (VNZ) is an association of national volunteer-involving organisations that have a commitment to volunteering. Their mission is to maximise the impact of volunteering in our communities. www.volunteeringnz.org.nz