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elaws - employment laws assistance for workers and small businesses - FLSA Section 14(c) Advisor

Volunteering by Workers with Disabilities

Just like other individuals, workers with disabilities may volunteer to perform certain tasks without creating an employment relationship under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). But in order to ensure that an employment relationship does not exist and to protect such workers from exploitation, the following criteria must be met:

1. The worker must be legally competent to freely volunteer, or when appropriate the worker’s parent or guardian must approve the volunteer activity.

2. The volunteer work performed must be substantially different from the work that he or she performs during duty hours.

3. The work must be performed outside normal duty hours.

4. The work must be of the type that would be normally classified as “volunteer” work. For example, a worker with a disability may volunteer to wheel another individual around in a wheel chair or participate in a community “clean up” program hosted by a work center.

Individuals who “volunteer” to help a work center or hospital meet production deadlines required by contract or subcontract work orders are not considered volunteers under the FLSA and an employment relationship exists when they are engaged in such activities.

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FLSA Section 14(c) Advisor | Wage and Hour Division