Understanding and Protecting Your Volunteers’ Legal Rights

Did you know that almost 17 million Canadians have done volunteer work at some point in their lives? About 59% of Canadians aged 15 and older have volunteered. Although these numbers are high, this can sometimes be overlooked or undervalued by organizations that rely heavily on volunteers to do jobs that may not be done by paid staff.

There are legal requirements and protections that deal specifically with volunteer rights. President and CEO of Volunteer Canada, Paula Speevak, was asked whether volunteers have equal standing as paid staff, and she responded with “if an employer is responsible for anything done in its name, whether by a volunteer, paid employee, a student placement, an intern, etc., then the answer is yes.” Although volunteers aren’t always mentioned in legislation, an organization is responsible for their employees, regardless of whether they are paid or unpaid. According to Terrance Carter, a managing partner of Carters Professional Corporation (Carters), volunteers, although not considered employees, are still entitled to similar legal protections.

It is important to understand your legal rights whether you are an organization that relies on volunteers, or you are a volunteer yourself. Read the following article for more information.