Your rights as a volunteer 

As a volunteer you are giving your time, energy and skills to an organisation for free. As a volunteer in New Zealand, you have certain rights: 

  • You should not be used to fill a position that previously belonged to a paid worker 
  • You should be paid back for any out-of-pocket expenses you have incurred on behalf of the organisation 
  • You must be given enough training to do your job 
  • Your work environment must be healthy and safe 
  • Your confidential private information must be protected 
  • You must not be subjected to unlawful discrimination or sexual and racial harassment.

Where to start when you have an issue?

Our top tips include

  • If possible start with internal processes and procedures, and explore internal solutions within your organisation.
  • Gather information. Write down what’s happened, and when it happend.
  • Get some guidance from an external source. Options include Citizens Advice Bureau, Community Law Centres, or talk to a trusted friend, or advisor. Community Law Aotearoa provides great online guidance on some core questions like, who is a volunteer and the key areas of law that apply can be explored further here.
  • If there are specific legal issues, then making a targeted complaint to a relevant government organisation is also an option eg Employment New Zealand and the Labour Inspectorate, WorkSafe and the Human Rights Commission.

WorkSafe and Health and Safety at Work Act

Find out more about how The Health and Safety Work Act applies to volunteers and officers who are volunteers.

Human Rights Act 1993 applies to volunteers

The Human Rights Act uses a definition of ‘employment’ that includes volunteers.

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

Contact the Human Rights Commission, or view the entire Human Rights Act 1993