The September issue of Volunteer Today was devoted to the topic of supplanting, where volunteers replace employees or do the same work as employees. Several readers chimed in to commend the writers on the in depth look at a challenging issue---the role of volunteers.
One of the readers, Joan Cardellino, wrote in to clarify nuances in the laws regarding volunteering and employees. VT asked her to flesh out her comments on the issue of volunteer roles and the laws. She is based in California and so many of her references are from CA laws, but excellent reference points. We share here her study of the law. And we thank her for taking the time to inform our readers.
The volunteer sector is regulated by various complex laws.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a federal law, governs the wages and hours of employees but does not define “volunteer.” The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) enforces the FLSA. The DOL recognizes the status of volunteers and has issued various opinion letters outlining what it deems are permissible versus impermissible activities for volunteers. These opinion letters are not binding on a court but may be given some deference, depending on the court.
In California, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement enforces state wage and hour law. It generally follows the DOL definition of “volunteer.”
Under federal and state law, there is a presumption is that the individual is an employee rather than a volunteer and the burden is on the employer to prove volunteer status.
Volunteer “work rule” policies should be written to first minimize organizational risk and second to meet the mission of the hospital.
Organizations should consider the potential liability for volunteers acting as their agents. Volunteer leaders who write “work rule” organizational policies based solely on recommendations and information from their peers in the volunteer sector may place their organizations at risk. It is recommended that hospitals consult with risk management and/or counsel to develop “work rule” policies based on organizational interpretation of
A newly released report on long-term unemployment examines the impact of unemployment from 2009 to 2011 in detail, looking at the breakdown of the unemployed by education, age, industry, type of occupation, gender and disability. Discussion of the impact on human services alludes to challenges facing non-profits. Key findings include:
• Employers shed workers aged 50 and over and were reluctant to hire them again. Challenges facing experienced workers may impact not only on depth of experience in the workforce, but on retirement systems and college financing as the parents of college aged children are thrown out of work.
• Higher education did not protect people from unemployment. Proportionally more people with college educations and advanced degrees face long-term unemployment than ever before. People with associate degrees are hardest hit. Yet none of the recovery proposals focuses on helping this highly educated workforce return to work.
• Younger workers, those entering the workforce for the first time, veterans, and people with disabilities re-entering the labor force had significant difficulty finding work.
• Stimulus funding saved jobs while it lasted, but the end of stimulus dollars is likely to create additional unemployment.
• Self-employment and opening small businesses is less of an option in this recession than in previous economic downturns because of lack of credit and the poor economy.
The report uses census statistics and vignettes from the unemployment system to analyze unemployment. Conclusions suggest strategies to address unemployment.
The full report and executive summary are available at