FAQs on Employment law and charities


How do employment laws apply to charities?

All workers, whether paid or voluntary, are entitled to the full protection of the UK’s employment laws. This includes protection against discrimination, working-time regulations and health and safety requirements. Employment Tribunals therefore have jurisdiction over disputes between employees of charities and their employers.

Are voluntary workers protected?

Voluntary workers are protected under employment laws equally to paid workers, except in certain respects. The principle difference lies in the right to the National Minimum Wage. Voluntary workers who work for a charity are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage. However, they can assert their rights in relation to other areas of employment law, such as discrimination and working conditions.

Are voluntary workers entitled to any payment?

Voluntary workers are entitled to no more than payments to compensate them for out-of-pocket expenses and benefits in kind. This means that a worker may be compensated for expenses that they incur in carrying out their work, such as transport between locations or purchasing necessary materials, with authorisation.

What laws govern employment disputes?

Disputes that occur between employees and employers in the charity sector are regulated in the same way as disputes occurring in the private and government sectors. There are no specific employment laws that apply to charities – the ordinary employment laws apply. However, there are some restrictions that apply with respect to the employment of a trustee, or payments made to the trustee. The Charity Commission is the regulatory authority for the charity sector, but it does not get involved in employment disputes. However, it may be able to assist with respect to the legal aspects of trusts and charities.

Where can charities obtain employment advice?

There are numerous organisations which assist charities, such as the Association of Charitable Foundations. These organisations can normally help charities with general information concerning their legal obligations, however for specialist legal advice it is advisable to consult a charity law solicitor. For purely employment law related disputes, an employment solicitor is the appropriate professional to contact.

If you would like to obtain legal advice from charity solicitors, Caven can put you in touch with a local charity solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local charity solicitors please call us at 08001 221 2299.

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