Recruiting volunteers

Many incorporated associations are run entirely by volunteers. Although volunteers are not paid and are not normally classified as employees for the purpose of employment and taxation laws, incorporated associations generally owe their volunteers a duty of care in relation to the work they undertake for the association. There are additional legal obligations imposed under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (Occupational Safety and Health and Workers’ Compensation).

It is important for incorporated associations that intend engaging volunteers to:

  • determine the association's volunteering needs;
  • determine how volunteers will fit within the association’s structure;
  • determine appropriate selection criteria and procedures in relation to the engagement and management of volunteers; and
  • provide a safe work environment, including the provision of appropriate support, training and supervision.
  • Some questions for incorporated associations to consider when deciding to engage volunteers:
  • What different roles will volunteers play in the association? How will the roles be documented?
  • What risk management and/or insurance issues need to be considered?
  • What expectations does the association have of volunteers?
  • How will volunteers be recruited and selected?
  • How will the volunteer arrangement between the association and its volunteers be documented, if at all?
  • How will volunteers be orientated and inducted into the association?
  • What will this induction include?
  • What policies and obligations do volunteers need to be aware of? (For example: anti-discrimination policies, conflict of interest policies, and occupational health and safety policies).
  • What resources will volunteers require?
  • How will tasks be assigned to volunteers? Who will supervise and direct their work?
  • What grievance procedures apply to volunteers?
  • What volunteer expenses will be reimbursed? How?
  • How (and when) will the association review its responsibilities in relation to volunteers?