This can sometimes mean that they owe significant payments, either to workers themselves or to HMRC, for breach of national minimum wage or tax rules.  They may also find that people who they thought were volunteers have employment rights.

The Office of Tax Simplification (“OTS”) has recently acknowledged this uncertainty and has recommended clearer guidance from HMRC on this area.  It has also suggested that a change in the law should be considered to exempt expenses payments for volunteers where these are equivalent to business expenses.

Many charities and voluntary organisations have been calling for more clarity in this area for some time. Greater clarity in this area would be welcome so that charities and voluntary organisations are more certain about their obligations.

There is the risk that, even if guidance or changes to the law are forthcoming, these result in a narrowing of the exemptions that apply to volunteers and voluntary workers, resulting in charities and voluntary organisations paying more tax and in greater numbers of voluntary workers being due the national minimum wage.

It remains to be seen how HMRC and the Government will respond to this call for clarity and whether any guidance or change in legislation will be forthcoming. 

For more information

If you would like any advice with regard to your volunteering arrangements or to enquire about our volunteer pack, please contact Douglas Mullen at or on 0121 212 7432.