The information posted on PayrollTalk is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining accounting, payroll, tax, or financial advice from a professional accountant.

Employee Volunteers?

We are co-hosting a street festival. We have a number of employees scheduled to work who will be paid their regular rate. We are also asking for volunteers from the public, civic organizations, etc. Our manager has also stated that if any of our other employees volunteer they will receive comp time to use at a future time. My concern is, since we already have some of our employees being paid for working that day, that we would need to pay all employees the same -- that they can't be unpaid volunteers at the same event where others are being paid. Seems like it would be a potential DOL issue, but I can't find any exact DOL guidelines to back up my concern.

Any ideas on where I can look? Thanks.


  • David WarrenDavid Warren ✭✭✭✭

    It is legally very difficult for a normally paid employee to volunteer their time. It is legally possible to pay them minimum wage instead of their normal rate with advance notification, but DOL is very strong on wage/hour laws such as minimum wage and overtime. It is possible since this street fair is not part of your normal business DOL will look the other way but even that is not certain. If for example your company is Budwiser and your employees are selling beer or otherwise promoting your company's products, there is a 100% chance that is hours worked per FLSA.

    You need to very carefully read everything in the following fact sheet and see if you can phrase an argument that will impress DOL based on their rules.

    Take an especially hard look at the following. The basic law that paragraph comes from is likely broad enough to cover your situation.

    Lectures, Meetings and Training Programs:
    Attendance at lectures, meetings, training programs and similar activities need not be counted as working time only if four criteria are met, namely: it is outside normal hours, it is voluntary, not job related, and no other work is concurrently performed.

  • David WarrenDavid Warren ✭✭✭✭

    If I was one of the employees who attended, and got fired later for any reason, I would file a wage claim that my attendance at your event was not voluntary. Easier to just pay all employees minimum wage, which is legal with advance notice.

  • rrupertrrupert ✭✭✭

    Are you a 510(c)3? If not, be very very careful. These employees are working.

    and I'd be very very careful about non-employees "volunteering". Is this a for profit event? You say you are co-hosting...what does that mean? with who? Hopefully a nonprofit where the volunteers would be volunteering through them? Because it is my understanding that no one can "volunteer" their services for a for-profit organization.

Sign In or Register to comment.