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HMRC internal manual

National Minimum Wage Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Entitlement to National Minimum Wage: Volunteers

Volunteers are not entitled to the national minimum wage. Volunteers do not work under any contractual arrangements and are therefore not workers (NMWM05020) for national minimum wage purposes. Typically they;

  • Provide their time and effort completely freely
  • Can come and go as they please
  • Are under no obligation to provide their services
  • Cannot be made to perform any specific duties
  • Do not suffer any sanctions if they do not perform their volunteer duties

Genuine volunteers do not expect, and are not entitled to receive, any monetary payments or benefits in kind for their volunteering duties. Any payments made to volunteers (particularly if they are made regularly), expenses greater than can be realistically incurred, or entitlement to benefits in kind could indicate that the person is not a volunteer, even if they think they are, but is actually a worker and will be entitled to the national minimum wage.

However, a genuine “honorarium” (a gift of money) in the form of a one-off gift which the volunteer had not expected to receive, with no obligation and of a reasonable amount is not likely to give the volunteer the right to the minimum wage.

See also: Voluntary workers (NMWM05090), Volunteering schemes, (ProjectScotland and v) (NMWM05100), Interns and internships (NMWM05315).