Voluntary staff may be reinbursed for more expenses under proposed law change

Firms could be forced to pay out more expenses for voluntary workers under a proposed law change to be debated in parliament later this week.

The House of Lords will consider an amendment to the Employment Bill that will entitle voluntary workers to be reimbursed for expenses, such as the cost of travel to and from work and childcare or carer expenses.

Under current legislation, voluntary workers are only entitled to claim back expenses incurred while performing their duties.

The proposed amendment follows a consultation conducted by Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) into the National Minimum Wage Act 1998.

The Employment Bill, which also aims to scrap the current grievance and disciplinary procedures for staff and replace them with the ‘Polkey principle’, is expected to come into force next April.

Minister for the third sector Phil Hope said: “We want to be sure that voluntary workers are not out of pocket as a result of volunteering, while also minimising the chances of low-paying jobs emerging.

“Voluntary workers do not get paid, but they still incur expenses as a result of their work, and this new legislation will allow those expenses to be paid without any problems,” he said.

The government will work closely with voluntary organisations to develop clear guidance on expenses to accompany the new legislation.

The amendment is not aimed at other volunteers who are on the most part not affected by the National Minimum Wage Act.

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