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Do you want to employ volunteers in your organisation? This is only possible for certain types of tasks and is only allowed if your organisation is a foundation or an association. There are specific rules in place around fees and contracts for volunteers.
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 in general
Which organisations can use volunteers?
If your organisation wants to work with volunteers you have to comply with the following:
- you do not have a public limited company (nv) or a private limited company (bv) and are not liable for corporate income tax (vennootschapsbelasting)
- your organisation is set up as a foundation or an association (this includes sports clubs)
- you have a public benefit organisation (ANBI)
- the volunteer is not employed by the organisation
- the volunteer does not perform the work as a regular job
- you do not pay your volunteer wages, but you may give a fee
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.
You are not allowed to pay volunteers wages, but you may give them a fee. This is not obligatory. You can give the volunteer a tax-free volunteering fee for the tasks they carry out. The amount of this fee is set by the Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst, in Dutch) and depends on the volunteer’s age. A maximum amount is set for the fee you may pay per month and per year. If you pay more, you are liable for payroll tax on the volunteering fee.
If a volunteer has to make expenses in order to carry out their tasks, you are allowed to reimburse those. Reimbursing expenses is tax-free and is not compulsory. Expenses can include travel costs, training courses and special clothing and equipment.
The Working Hours Act does not apply to volunteers over 18. Volunteers aged 16 or 17 are not allowed to work between 11pm and 6am. For volunteers aged 15 or under, the same rules apply as for paid work.
Volunteers are entitled to a safe and healthy working environment. If volunteers carry out tasks that involve risks, the Working Conditions Act (Arbowet) applies. This is the case for volunteers who:
Pregnant women and volunteers under 18 are subject to additional rules. They are not allowed to work with certain hazardous substances. Young people should always be supervised when carrying out risky tasks and new mothers should have the opportunity to pump breast milk.
Certificate of good conduct
If a volunteer works with vulnerable people, such as older people or children, they will need a certificate of good conduct (VOG). Applying for a certificate of good conduct for a volunteer is free of charge (in Dutch) if your organisation meets certain conditions:
- you need to be registered with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KvK)
- you have eHerkenning
- you have a clear and effective policy for safety and integrity in place, this policy has to be submitted as part of the application
Volunteers receiving benefits
A volunteer who receives unemployment, sickness or disablement benefits (WW, Ziektewet, WAO, WIA or Wajong) is allowed to carry out volunteer work without losing their benefits. They do still have the duty to search for a job. Also, the volunteer work should not reduce their chances of finding a paid job. The volunteer has to report the volunteering work and any fees they receive to the Employment Insurance Agency (UWV, in Dutch) themselves.
Complying with GDPR
You have to protect your volunteers’ personal information. You need their consent for any personal data you want to store or use. The rules and regulations concerning personal data are laid down in the General Data Protection Regulation.