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Are you working as a volunteer? Here are your rights at the work place

By oscar | January 29th 2020

Volunteers are not employees within the meaning of section 2 of the Employment Act 2007. The section defines an employee as a person employed for wages or a salary and includes an apprentice and indentured learner.

Voluntarism, on the other hand, is the group of activities carried out by individuals, associations, or legal entities, for the common good by free choice and without the intention of financial gain, outside the framework of any employment or civil service relationship.

Although an individual may volunteer his or her services for purposes of learning, this does make one an indentured learner or an employee for purposes of lodging a claim under the Employment Act.

The terms of engagement for Volunteers do not have to conform to the provision of the employment Act but is left to the organization to decide the kind of benefits they would extend to them. In fact, they cannot lodge a claim for unfair termination, redundancy pay or gratuity.

However, not being an employee does not exclude volunteers from human rights protection under the Constitution. They are thus entitled to the basic human rights under article 24 of the Constitution, which includes the right not to be discriminated against on the grounds of sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnicity, religion, conscience, belief, culture language among other rights.

Although volunteers are not legally entitled to a salary or wages, they are nonetheless obligated under section 3(2) of the Income Tax Act to pay tax on the allowance or stipend, if any, that they receive on the basis of the services they render.

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