California Employment Law
California Employment Law Questions Answered by Legal Experts
The key to maintaining volunteer status is that your placements must not be such that individuals are being utilized to permit a nonprofit organization to avoid hiring employees, where the volunteer work is something that is almost always carried on by an employee. Examples: Providing directions to persons entering a hospital lobby, is traditionally a volunteer activity. Working as a cashier in a hospital gift shop is traditionally paid employment. Handing out a free cup of coffee or some free cookies is volunteer work. Mixing specially ordered coffee drinks and providing pasteries in exchange for payment is paid employment.
BotXXXXX XXXXXne, you must be careful about crossing the line, or you can be held liable for the employee's pay and payroll taxes.
thank you very much for your answer. From what you are describing, there doesn't seem to be a direct problem for the types of volunteering activities we are talking about, but maybe I can clarify a little further.
We are talking about small tasks those volunteers would perform in their area of training/expertise (for example a website, writing a grant application, a PR text, or something like that), typically between 10 and 100 hours of work.
The service we plan on providing helps to find the right quality volunteers, to provide a collaboration (online) platform and a rating system that helps good volunteers find good charities. For this, we would charge charities a small fee for each project of probably 10-20$.
Does this raise any concerns with you?
In my opinion, the sort of work you are describing is employment. However, if the volunteers, you and the nonprofit are willing to sign an acknowledgment in advance stating that the volunteer intends their services to be entirely without compensation, and that they will not be subject to the supervision and control of your organization or the nonprofit, in any manner, except as to the end result of the agreed-upon project, then you're probably on pretty safe ground. You may want to consider trying a test case, and sending it to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement for an opinion letter on whether or not your test case would be considered volunteerism or employment.
A request for a legal opinion must be submitted by letter to the Chief Counsel of the Labor Commissioner and must contain a statement that there is no California decision or prior DLSE opinion on point and that you have actively researched the subject matter on the DLSE website, including the DLSE Enforcement Policies and Interpretations Manual found on the website. The request must also contain a statement that the opinion is not sought in connection with anticipated or pending private litigation concerning the issue addressed in the request nor is the opinion sought in connection with an investigation or litigation between a client or firm and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
All such requests for a legal opinion which comply with the above requirements should be submitted to:
Chief Counsel Division of Labor Standards Enforcement P.O. Box 420603 San Francisco, CA 94142
Hope this helps.
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