Working with volunteers

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Do you want to work with volunteers in your organisation? You must comply with specific rules around fees and contracts for volunteers. If you fail to do so, the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst) might consider your volunteer an employee. In that case, among others, you would have to pay your volunteer minimum wage.

What is volunteer work?

To qualify as volunteering, work has to conform to the following:

  • it serves the public interest or addresses a specific social issue
  • the work is not carried out to make a profit
  • the volunteer does not replace a paid employee and does not negatively impact the labour market

The Dutch Tax and Customs Administration views work as volunteer work if:


You are not allowed to pay volunteers wages, but you can give them a fee. This is not obligatory. You can give volunteers a tax-free volunteering fee (vrijwilligersvergoeding) for the tasks they carry out. The amount of this tax-free fee (in Dutch) is set by the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration, and depends on the volunteer’s age.

There is a maximum amount for the fee you may pay per month and per year. If you pay more, the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration might see the fee as salary. This means you are liable for payroll tax on the volunteering fee.


Does a volunteer make expenses in order to carry out their tasks? You are allowed to reimburse those costs. Reimbursing expenses is tax-free and is not compulsory. Expenses are for instance travel costs, training courses, and special clothing and equipment.

If you give both a fee and pay expenses, you must keep the total of the amount paid under the amount of the tax-free fee. If the combination of these 2 payments are higher, the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration will view the combination of payments as wages.

Drawing up a volunteer agreement

If you work with volunteers, you are not legally required to draw up a volunteering agreement or contract. However, if you do so, the contract will be legally binding. A volunteering agreement can contain terms such as tasks, working hours, and fees.

Presumption of an employment contract

If you work with 1 or more volunteers, in some cases the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration presumes they have an employment contract

There is a presumption of an employment contract if:

  • the volunteer cannot be replaced with another volunteer
  • the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration views the fee you pay as wages
  • you have an employer-employee relationship with the volunteer

If this is the case, a volunteer has the same rights as an employee with an employment contract. This means they are entitled to minimum wage, holiday entitlement and continued payment of wages during illness.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO