Volunteering can work well when somebody genuinely wishes to offer their help free of charge – not just because the person engaging them is looking for a cheap option. It can feel less formal and friendlier than a paid relationship, and it is organisationally simpler not to have the responsibilities specifically related to employment.
Nonetheless, establishing the voluntary relationship properly is important for the protection of all parties. Being clear about expectations and ensuring the safety of everyone involved are just as important as in a paid employment relationship. Don’t cut corners because ‘it’s only a volunteer.’
If support is being provided by a volunteer, much of the guidance on this website and in the Skills for Care toolkits will still be relevant. Be aware that guidance relating to formal employment will not apply. Nothing in the arrangements for volunteering should imply any kind of employment relationship.
It is important that the nature of the voluntary relationship is clear and written down. Avoid any implied contractual relationship – e.g. avoid using the word ‘work’. The person seeking assistance should write and agree a ‘role description’ with tasks listed.
Our guidance regarding keeping safe applies equally whether voluntary or paid assistance is being given. Look especially at the advice regarding references, interviewing and DBS checks. An eligibility to work check may still be required for non UK citizens, even though there is no employment relationship.
Issues around whether you might need insurance, either when engaging a volunteer assistant or when being a volunteer assistant, are unclear. If you are concerned, we suggest you take legal advice yourself by approaching a solicitor in the first instance.