Volunteers and working conditions

If you are an organisation working with volunteers, you might still have to deal with labour law in so far as it relates to working conditions. Volunteers are entitled to safe and healthy working conditions just as employees. What do these safe and healthy working conditions entail?

Workplace and volunteer safety

Volunteers must be able to access and leave the workplace safely, including in case of emergency. The workplace must be set up in such a way that people can work safely and that safety instructions are available. Any protective clothing also comes under this requirement.

A ruling by the Supreme Court on 15 December 2017 stipulated that an organisation is responsible and may therefore be liable if a volunteer’s working conditions are unsafe. That case concerned a volunteer working on the roof of a church, who fell off and sustained a serious injury. In the litigation between the church (or rather, its insurer) and the volunteer, there was a dispute about whether the church is liable for volunteers.

The Supreme Court found that it was clear from the legislative history that the working conditions section of labour law also applies to volunteers under certain circumstances. In this specific case, the Supreme Court held that the church was responsible for the volunteer’s safety. It did not consider it important that church employees would never perform such work or that the church was not conducting business.

So if a volunteer sustains an injury while performing work, it is possible that the court will find the non-profit organisation liable for the harm suffered. To this end, it is crucial to have good liability insurance.

Want to know more?

If you want to find out more about legislation affecting volunteers, you can contact Martin Aandewiel by email  or by phone on +31 (0)88 277 1396. He will be happy to assist.