Volunteering does not affect an individuals’ entitlement to benefits. Unfortunately, benefits advisors are not always aware of this.
Informing Benefits Advisers of Volunteering
It is compulsory for volunteers to tell benefits advisors if they are volunteering. As volunteer managers it is good practice to ensure existing and potential volunteers are aware of this rule.
However if the volunteer decides not to disclose this information, the organisation should not force the issue. Because of negative attitudes and lack of information on the part of advisers, many people feel more comfortable keeping their volunteering secret. As an organisation you have no duty to inform the benefits office of who is volunteering for you, so leave it up to the individual volunteer to decide.
You can support volunteers who are on benefits by providing a standard letter that they can send to the benefits office. The letter should state that the volunteer:
- Does not get paid, only reimbursed actual out-of-pocket expenses.
- Can be contacted whilst volunteering with you if a job opportunity becomes available.
- Can be available within 1 week to start work and can attend an interview with 48 hours notice.
Alternatively, you can use and adapt the standard letters below.