Can I claim compensation if working as a volunteer?

Many people now undertake voluntary work, either to help the community or to increase their own prospects of finding paid employment. But are volunteers exposed to a greater risk of sustaining injury?

But what happens if a voluntary worker sustains injury in a workplace accident through no fault of their own? Does he or she have the right to claim compensation?

The short answer is yes, but it can sometimes be difficult for a voluntary worker to know who to seek compensation from.

One reason for this is that many voluntary workers are recruited by agencies but perform their work at premises belonging to, and operated by, another company. 

From whom can a voluntary worker claim compensation?

It depends on the circumstances of the accident.  

If, for example, a voluntary worker sustains injury because of the state of the workplace, they can usually claim compensation from whomever is in control of the workplace.

Regulation 12 of The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations,1992 can be used to give an example of this.

Regulation 12 stipulates that: "the floor [of a workplace] shall have no hole or slope, or be uneven or slippery so as, in each case, to expose any person to a risk to his health or safety." 

If a voluntary worker falls and sustains injury because of a hole in the workplace floor, they will usually be able to make a claim under regulation 12.

Under the 1992 regulations, the voluntary worker's claim should be made to the company in charge of the workplace. It does not matter if it is a different company to the one which recruited the voluntary worker and sent to him or her to that workplace. 

Training and equipment 

An employer must ensure that voluntary workers must receive proper training  to enable them to perform the tasks which they are expected to undertake.

Likewise, an employer must issue voluntary workers with appropriate personal protective equipment ('PPE'), such as gloves, suitable for the tasks they are to carry out. 

A voluntary worker who is injured because they have received insufficient training or inadequate PPE will usually be able to claim compensation. 

Damages

A person who has sustained injury may be able to claim not only for the injury but also for loss of earnings and expenses.  

A voluntary worker who has no paid employment will obviously  not be able to claim for loss of earnings. However, it may in certain circumstances be possible for such a worker to claim compensation for disadvantage in the labour market.

This is a complex area of law, but Quittance's team of expert solicitors will be able to advise you about every aspect of your claim and will ensure that you get the compensation you are entitled to. 

Call us to discuss your options on 0800 612 7456 or arrange a call back at a time that suits you.

Related reading: Do you have to be an employee to make a workplace injury claim?