Voluntary work is something that every person should do some amount of. It means the person is contributing to the local and wider community. Not only can it help to pad out your CV, but it can be super fun as well. It helps you meet new people and learn new skills. So, what else can volunteering do? Can it help you get a job? Does it count as work experience or employment? Will it affect your taxes and benefits?
If you are a volunteer, you will most likely have no contract of employment. As a volunteer, you are not an employee of the specific company, but you do work for them. This means that yes, volunteering is something which you can list on you CV as past employment, but it is not something which relies on a contract and negotiated payment.
Continue reading this article to find out the ins and outs of exactly what volunteering is classed as. How is it similar to traditional job employment and how is it vastly different?
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Does volunteering count as employment?
In some ways – yes, but in other ways – no.
Volunteering is different in that it is not a contract job. This means that volunteers are normally excluded from employment rights because an employment contract requires payment in exchange for the work put in.
However, with volunteering you will not get paid, as you would for regular employment. Instead, to volunteer means to contribute work with no payment being relayed in return for the effort put in. Don’t take this wrong, volunteering is still something that you can (and should) list on your CV, under previous employment.
Find more information about this on the 1hourlife Blog.
Is volunteering similar to regular employment?
When volunteering, you don’t have fixed hours that are signed and agreed on in a contract. Instead, you work however much you can, or you want to. Similarly, your hours are not set in stone. This means you can change them according to your will. This makes volunteering roles much more flexible than an actual employment job.
However, volunteering is similar in some ways, to traditional employment. For example, you will most likely need to attend an interview and job induction. This is to make sure you know what you are doing during your volunteer hours. The interview is done to make sure you meet the requirements for a volunteer. This can include your age or criminal record.
Unlike regular employment however, the interview is nothing to stress about because the charity or company will very likely be happy to accept qualified unpaid volunteers. For a few quick tips on how, as a student, you should dress for an interview, read this Think Student article.
Does volunteering count as work experience?
Volunteering indeed does count as work experience. It counts as equivalent work experience to traditional employment. You should always list any volunteering experience on your CV, as it means you are more likely to get the job. It’s especially good if the volunteering role relates to the specific job you are applying for.
If your volunteering work relates directly to the job you are applying for, then you can include it under ‘work experience’. This means it counts as work experience if you learnt and developed skills that relate to the job you are applying for.
However, if the work you did as a volunteer was more general or doesn’t relate directly to the job you are applying for, then you should put it under ‘Volunteering Experience’.
Will volunteering affect your benefits?
In brief – no; voluntary work is not likely to affect your benefits in any way. However, you should still be aware of what to do and how to report your volunteering hours, depending on your benefits.
Depending on your benefits, if you wish to start volunteering, you should first contact either your local council or your local Jobcentre Plus office. You may be required to still actively seek a paying job but, in some cases, you won’t have to – if the volunteering role is likely to help you find a job.
This applies to different kinds of benefits, including Jobseeker’s allowance or income support, carers allowance, benefits for if you are sick or disabled and finally, housing benefit or council tax reduction.
Does voluntary work affect universal credit?
Don’t know what universal credit is? Find more information on what universal credit is and how to claim it by visiting UK government website.
If you get universal credit and are planning to commit to volunteer work, you should contact your work coach. Once your work coach agrees, you will be able to attend a job interview, and then start the job. You will get up to 48 hours of notice to attend the interview and up to 1 week to start the job. Find information specific to you about volunteering and benefits by visiting this gov.uk page.
If you get Universal Credit, your volunteering may count to up to half of the time that you and your work coach agree to spend looking for and preparing for work in your ‘Claimant Commitment’.
Is volunteering a good way to get a job?
When you volunteer, not only are you helping your favourite social issue or charity, but you are also making yourself more employable.
You can never go wrong with volunteering on your CV or job application. Not only does it show that you are committed to providing meaningful work, but also helps you to stand out from the crowd. So why does volunteering make you more appealing as an employee?
Volunteering can help you learn and develop transferable work skills. This can include leadership, communication, organisation, cooperation, initiative, decision making and problem-solving.
Volunteering shows that you have obtained relevant skills that your potential employer may find indispensable. Having volunteering experience can make your potential future employer glance twice at your job application.
Volunteering is especially useful to high school students, who have not yet had a proper job. This can be the first step to starting your career. On the other hand, some students do prefer to begin with a part time job. Visit this Think student article to learn about the best part time jobs for students.