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Volunteers without contracts not protected

A recent Supreme Court decision will be welcomed by charities and other voluntary sector organisations who are concerned about the extra burden enhanced rights for volunteers could potentially bring. The court confirmed that an unpaid Citizen Advice Bureau volunteer, who had no contract, was not protected under discrimination law. However, it is clear that some volunteers may be protected. The key issue appears to be whether they have a contract. The judgment reaffirms that, to fall within the employment provisions of anti-discrimination legislation, the person must be a “worker”. That requires them to operate under a contract. Without a contract there is no protection.

This checklist explains the significance of the distinction between an employee, a worker and a self-employed contractor and highlights the legal status of volunteers.

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