Volunteering – volunteer work
Volunteering is regulated by the “Act on Public Benefit and Volunteering” of 24 April 2003. An agreement between the volunteer and the beneficiary is a civil law agreement (different types of volunteer agreements – umowa o wolontariat, prozumienie wolontariackie, umowa wolontariacka). Agreements between the beneficiary and the volunteer to the extent not regulated by this Act are under the provisions of the Act of 23 April 1964. – The Civil Code.
The volunteer is not treated as an employee because the basis for their assistance is neither the employment contract nor any other contract regulated in the Labour Code. There is no employment relationship between the volunteer and the beneficiary. Being paid for work is a necessary condition of an employment relationship and the services based on a volunteer agreement are free of charge (par. 22 Labor Code). The solutions and regulations from the Labour Code do not apply to volunteering.
The Act on Public Benefit Activities and Volunteering of 24 April 2003 does not specify the amount of time for volunteer activities, only Art. 44 sec. 1 of the Act that the services of volunteers are performed to the extent, in the manner and within the time specified in the agreement with the beneficiary. The agreement should be on paper if the voluntary service lasts longer than 30 days,
When the volunteer requests it, the beneficiary is obliged to confirm the content of the agreement in writing and issue a certificate on the provision of services by the volunteer, including the scope of services.
The beneficiary can also submit a written opinion on the provision of services by the volunteer.
For how many hours a day can a volunteer assist?
Working time is not regulated in the Act on Public Benefit and Volunteering. Yet it is worth implementing some good practices.
A good solution is to use the provisions of labour law regarding the time of providing services by a volunteer (Labour Code – Department – Working Time and Employment of Juveniles). When cooperating with an adult or a juvenile over 16 y.o., the beneficiary should not allow their working time to exceed 8 hours a day. If the minor is up to 16 y. o., it is worth limiting the working time to 6 hours per day.
There are also additional regulations regarding the working time of juveniles in the Labour Code that apply in such cases.
The weekly working time of a juvenile during the school year may not exceed 12 hours. On a normal school day, the working time of a juvenile may not exceed 2 hours. During holidays it is 7 hours a day and 35 hours a week. However, the daily working time of a minor up to 16 years old may not exceed 6 hours.
How much time to devote is up to a volunteer, coordinator or activist. It is not uncommon for volunteers to do as much as the situation requires. Before important events the tasks never end, exceeding 12 or more hours a day. Volunteers can work as much as they want. This is their individual decision. If the beneficiary expects it from the volunteer – they should ask first and if the volunteer does not agree to it, they should respect this decision.
Employee volunteering means that the employer initiates and/or supports the social activities of employees. Workers can perform various types of work using their skills as volunteers while the employer initiates such activities and supports them.
The employer usually offers support through:
– funds – when the employer allocates funds to employees-volunteers, and they can use them to carry out their activities,
– time – the employer enables the implementation of volunteer activities of employees within working time,
– resources – the employer allows to use of the resources of the workplace to carry out the activities of employees – volunteers, e.g. company cars, and equipment.
Support for at least one of the three areas shall qualify as employee volunteering
Employee volunteering is based on the Act of 24 April 2003 on public benefit activities and volunteering. The Civil Code and the Labour Code provisions also apply. Activities based on the Act on the principles of conducting public collections (Journal of Laws of 2014, item 498, as amended) and activities related to blood donation can also be included in employee volunteering.
Employee volunteering – forms
Employee volunteering covers a wide range of actions, from activities initiated by employers to individual volunteering.
– Employee whip-round – can be carried out as a fundraiser or in-kind donations. The employer allows (passively) employees to prepare and carry out a fundraiser at the workplace or actively join organizing, using internal communication channels to promote it.
Fundraisers who actively participate in its promotion and then collection storage and transfer of the in-kind donations, and later the settlement of whip-round are volunteers. Donators are not volunteers. Collections also include blood donations.
Skills-based volunteering – when employees use their skills, knowledge or it is so-called “competence volunteering”. These skills can be related to their hobbies or passions. The category also includes pro bono activities, i.e. services provided professionally and free of charge by the entity or by professionals most commonly associated with the liberal professions.
Mentoring and other individual support – this form is gaining popularity in Poland. It includes programmes of regular work with a supported person or career advice.
Personal volunteering – is any individual unpaid activity for the benefit of the community, which is supported by the employer. The activity becomes part of employee volunteering when the employer offers support, and the employee decides to take it.
Posting – an employee can be delegated to do a specific task or even full-time work in an NGO. It may take a day, several months, a year or even longer. Nevertheless, posting for a longer period is more common in large, usually international programmes and involves the relocation of an employee to another country and including them in the long-term operation of the organisation. An additional goal of delegation is counteracting the burnout of employees by allowing them to work for a different case in a different entity.
Team volunteering – a group of volunteers who work together to achieve specific benefits for the community. The employer often initiates a competition that aims at supporting the activities of the employees with funds. Based on this employees have time to create a team, determine what to do and how they want to do it, and arrange cooperation with the social partner. The social actions organized for employees during training or integration trips are included in team volunteering.
Activity in the workplace (building professional experience) – these are activities carried out for the benefit of the community that takes place in the workplace. For example, visits of kids or short internships that allow getting acquainted with a profession. In most cases, they are a part of the professional duties of people undertaking them – they are not employee volunteering.
Management teams/trusteeships – usually experienced employees are involved, who sit on management and control bodies to help in the strategic management of various organizations. Taking up such positions in non-governmental organizations, clubs, and unions is community work. The most important principle is to prevent conflict of interest between the employer and the entity chosen by the employee.