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Wage and Hour Division

Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

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FOH Field Operations Handbook
arrowChapter 64 Employment of Workers with Disabilities at Special Minimum Wages under Section 14(c)
arrowSection 64c Employment Relationship

Section 64c04: Unpaid Volunteers

  • Members of service clubs and other charitable organizations frequently donate their time to help at not-for-profit organizations such as work centers or hospitals. These individuals usually volunteer on a part-time basis and have no expectation of remuneration or employment. In these circumstances, no employment relationship would exist between the volunteer and the work center or hospital. The use of volunteers by a work center or hospital does not violate the terms and conditions of its SMW certificate (see FOH 10b03(c)). If questions arise about the use of volunteers by for-profit "organizations" or "employers," contact the FLSA Team, NO/OEP.
  • Individuals who "volunteer" to help the work center or hospital meet production deadlines required by contract or subcontract work orders are not true volunteers and an employment relationship exists when they are engaged in such activities.
  • Employees of a work center or hospital cannot volunteer to perform the same services they are normally employed and paid to perform. For example, a secretary cannot volunteer to respond to correspondence generated by a special fund-raising drive (see FOH 10b03(d)).
  • If workers with disabilities are allowed to volunteer their services, the following criteria must be met to protect them from exploitation:
    1. The worker with a disability must be legally competent to freely volunteer his or her services. A worker with a disability who is over 18 years of age is often his or her own guardian, but if not, the parent or guardian, as appropriate, must have approved such volunteer work. In such cases, the INV must be certain that he or she is dealing with the actual guardian or custodial parent.
    2. The work performed must be substantially different from the work performed during duty hours.
    3. The work must be of the type that would be normally classified as "volunteer" work as described in FOH 10b03(c).
    4. The work must be performed outside normal duty hours.
  • INVs should ask the employer during the initial conference about any individuals the firm considers to be volunteers rather than employees and confirm the volunteer status.
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