Category Archives: volunteer

Why Do People Work?


Source: Free Digital Images/Photostock

I was recently approached by BBC Radio Northampton to talk about why people work – for the love of the job or the love of money.

For many people money is essential so they can live, buy food, pay their bills and look after their family and most do not have the luxury of being able to choose whether they work or not.  In these cases in order to be fulfilled they must try and find a job that they love.  If a job is laborious and they hate it, deep down they will not be happy and give their all to their employer.  If someone has to work for the money alone it creates anxiety.  They may live in fear of losing their job and the consequences that may occur from that.  It is a sad and desperate situation.  They will be miserable and the situation may consume all their life including their time off.  Individuals who do, however, just work solely to earn as much money as possible may be soul less and selfish – only out for themselves and not enjoying any team spirit that may exist.

Some people work because they love their job.  Volunteers, for example, are not paid, but they work because they get fulfillment from what they do.  There are people who do not need to work because they have plenty of money, but they do so because it allows them to keep busy and prevents their minds stagnating.  Some people who have retired say they miss their job.  That is because work gives someone a purpose in life – something to get up in a morning.  Going to work makes them feel good.

An interesting varied job will give someone job satisfaction, particularly if their efforts are noticed and commented on by their line manager.  That will increase their self esteem and confidence.

Some people go to work for companionship and social contact.  If they stayed at home they might not speak to anyone all day.

Going to work may stretch someone’s mind, allows them to use their skills and gain new experiences.  Many people enjoy their profession.

Work is often an essential part of people’s lives and ideally employers should offer interesting varied work to encourage employee engagement whilst employees get fulfillment from a job well done.

National Student Volunteer Week – How to Stay Legal With Your Volunteers

11-16 February is National Student Volunteer week, which celebrates the great contribution of volunteer students.  Whilst their efforts are to be applauded, it is important for organisations that use volunteers to be aware of potential risks in relation to doing so and take appropriate actions.

There is currently no legislation that covers volunteer workers or a legal definition of what a volunteer is.  Volunteering England defines volunteering as “an activity that involves spending time, unpaid doing something that aims to benefit the environment or individuals or groups other than (or in addition to) close relatives.”

Whilst they provide a flexible motivated resource that can help cash strapped organisations such as charities and voluntary organisations, it is very important to differentiate between employees and volunteers to avoid any future legal problems which may include discrimination and unfair dismissal claims.   Recent case law has shown that volunteers can not claim discrimination as they are not classed as employees.  It is important that the relationship between organisation and volunteer will stand up to scrutiny.

In practice volunteers should not be treated like employees and any written agreements must clearly demonstrate the nature of the working relationship. Tribunals tend to rule on behaviour which can demonstrate a contract even if there is no written document in place. However it is good practice to have  written documents in place.

A volunteer role description (not job description) can clarify the intentions of both parties in terms of the duties or activities required.  

It might be safer to avoid providing a volunteer contract, but instead have an agreement that expresses the intentions of the relationship and reference to appropriate policies that govern the role.  It is best to avoid any connotations that could deem to express a contract such as contract, pay, employee, employer.  Instead use words such as volunteer, intentions and relationship. The agreement could include details regarding the level of supervision and support, training, whether they are covered by insurance and any expenses they will get.  Furthermore it is recommended to develop separate policies for grievance and disciplinary situations possibly referring to problem-solving instead.  

The main legal rights of volunteers are with health and safety, driving and data protection.  Volunteers have the right to a safe workplace, they are covered by special driving at work legislation as outlined by the HSE and they have the right to have their personal information protected in accordance with the Data Protection Act.