Volunteers and the law

There are a range of laws that have implications on how organisations interact, treat and manage volunteers.

Community Law Aotearoa has produced an excellent online resource with great guidance on some core questions like, who is a volunteer? What rights and responsibilities do organisations have in regards to their volunteers? You should definitely read the Commuity Law Manual.  And the other resources identified below.

Volunteers versus employees

For somebody to be a volunteer they must not expect payment and they must not receive payment. It is often obvious when someone is a volunteer, for example, volunteering once weekly for a charity or community with no expectation of payment. The situation can be much more complicated when it comes to work experience, work trials and unpaid internships or when a volunteer is working in a commercial organisation.


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Volunteer rights under the Human Rights Act

The Human Rights Act protects people from unlawful discrimination. The Act’s intention is to ensure that everyone is treated fairly in key areas of life, including employment, and this includes the recruitment of volunteers. The Human Rights Act uses a definition of ‘employment’ that includes volunteers.

Go to fact sheet

Health and Safety for volunteers

Everybody at work has responsibilities under The Health and Safety Work Act. Learn more about how it applies to volunteers and officers who are volunteers.

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Volunteer expenses

Expenses repaid to volunteers working for your organisation are not taxed. Payments to volunteers for their services should be taxed as PAYE or as a schedular payment. IRD outlines how to navigate payments made to volunteers from a tax perpsective.

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