Voluntary Internship Best Practice

 Team London has worked closely with  NCVO and Greater London Volunteering to establish best practice on the recruitment of volunteer interns. 

To the right of this page are two documents from NCVO, which explain the current thinking around voluntary internships and how organisations may unintentionally create a ‘contract of employment’ with a volunteer.

The term ‘intern’ has no legal definition in UK employment law, and is widely used as a marketing tool to attract a certain audience. Interns are often paid Minimum Working Wage. 

For third sector organisations and charities, it is acceptable to offer an ‘unpaid internship’ as long as there is no profit being made by either the worker or organisation. However, in real terms there is no difference between  recruiting a ‘volunteer’ or a ‘voluntary intern’ when looking for a volunteer to assist with a more structured project.

Team London ask that you consider the following questions when composing your volunteer role description:

  • Does this look like a job that someone should be paid to do?
  • Look at the number of hours, targets, expectations , level of responsibility - is this a reasonable expectation of a volunteer?
  • Could you be unintentionally creating a contract of employment?
  • Are you being clear that this is a voluntary role, and that the volunteer can leave at any time and is under no obligation at all to achieve given targets?
  • Are you being transparent around training, benefits, reimbursement of expenses?
  • If you are satisfied that this is a role for a volunteer, Team London are happy to post the role. 

If you have any queries or would like to discuss any aspect of your volunteer roles, please contact us.