Legal Updates

A volunteer may receive compensation for her work, but employing an employee under the guise of a volunteer is illegal

March 4, 2021

A woman who held a position in an educational organization contended that she was due payment of social benefits by virtue of an employer-employee relationship, after the organization contended that she was not entitled to such rights because she was a volunteer and not an employee of the organization.
The Labor Court held that there was no employer-employee relationship between the parties and that the woman was only a volunteer. Employing an employee under the guise of a volunteer is illegal because the exploitation of a weak and helpless employee must be avoided by defining him as a mere volunteer. The question of whether an employer-employee relationship or a voluntary relationship exists between the parties is examined by the consideration of all the circumstances of each specific case while giving weight to various factual components such as the existence of an employment contract, wage arrangement, type of work and scope, and how the parties themselves viewed the framework of the relationship. Although the possibility should not be ruled out that a volunteer may receive payment or benefits in connection with his work, a volunteer is one who comes to work of his own volition, performs the work without real monetary compensation, is not a party to an employment agreement, is not subject to binding hours or working days and is not subject to the control of the employer. The existence of a voluntary relationship precludes the existence of an employer-employee relationship and the two cannot co-exist. Here, the woman, although received compensation, was not a party to an employment agreement, came to work of her own volition and knew well what the work-frame is and when employer-employee relationship exists or does not. In addition, at least for part of the time she held a position in the organization, she was also employed in another organization, without informing them or the tax authorities that she was employed in two places at the same time, a fact that indicates the woman herself did not see herself as an employee of the organization, but a volunteer and thus no employee-employer relationship existed.