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Insurance to cover volunteers

You should make sure your employers’ liability insurance covers any volunteers who are working on behalf of your charity. Even if your charity doesn't employ paid staff, you may still decide to take out employers’ liability insurance to protect your volunteers.

You may decide to take out other forms of insurance, depending on your charity’s activities, such as cover in case of problems with a service you provide like giving advice (professional indemnity insurance).


DBS checks

If your volunteers are over 16 years of age and will be working alone with children or vulnerable adults, the law requires you to get a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check on them.  DBS checks are free for volunteers.
As an organisation, you should give the person being checked a form to fill in and return, together with proof of identity documents. You will need to tell the volunteer the reason why they are being checked.
DBS checks do not have an official expiry date. Any information gathered is accurate only at the time the check was completed and subsequent convictions will not be listed, so it is your responsibility when it comes to updating a DBS check.

Click here to find out more about DBS checks.

It is good to realise that proper safeguarding goes far wider than DBS checks. It also involves how you induct, support and train your volunteers.


Legal status of volunteers

Charities could potentially run into legal problems if they don’t clearly distinguish between paid staff and volunteers. It is possible for volunteers to claim they have the same rights as employees such as, for example, entitlement to minimum wage or claiming unfair dismissal.

Having a written volunteer role description for volunteers is a good way to make it clear what the boundaries and expectations are. It is important that the role description could not be confused with an employment contract or job description. For example the language should not be about ‘obligations’ and ‘requirements’ but rather about ‘hopes’ and ‘expectations’.

The legal status of volunteers – Volunteering England


Expenses for Volunteers

Volunteers aren’t paid for their time but should be paid for any out-of-pocket expenses. These expenses could include travel, postage, telephone costs if working from home, or any essential equipment.

Volunteers should provide receipts for any expenses they incur.

If a volunteer receives any type of reward or payment other than expenses, they may see this as a salary and they could be classed as an employee. This then gives them some employment rights.

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Jewish Volunteering Network

Wohl Campus for Jewish Education

44a Albert Road, London, NW4 2SJ

020 8203 6427 (London & Herts)

07587 792 272 (Manchester)



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