Human Resources Consulting - Columbia SC

Who Can Be a Volunteer?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines employment very broadly, i.e., "to suffer or permit to work." However, the Supreme Court has made it clear that the FLSA was not intended "to stamp all persons as employees who without any express or implied compensation agreement might work for their own advantage on the premises of another." In administering the FLSA, the Department of Labor follows this judicial guidance in the case of individuals serving as unpaid volunteers in various community services. Individuals who volunteer or donate their services, usually on a part-time basis, for public service, religious, charitable, educational or humanitarian objectives, not as employees and without contemplation of pay, are not considered employees of the religious, charitable, educational or similar non-profit organizations that receive their services.

For example, members of civic organizations may help out in a sheltered workshop; men's or women's organizations may send members or students into hospitals or nursing homes to provide certain personal services for the sick or elderly; parents may assist in a school library or cafeteria as a public duty to maintain effective services for their children or they may volunteer to drive a school bus to carry a football team or school band on a trip.

However, under the provisions of the FLSA, individuals may not volunteer services to for-profit private sector employers.

As an example, several years ago, the Cimarrone Golf Club in Jacksonville, Florida was ordered to pay nearly $14,000 in back wages to 24 starters and rangers who were compensated with free rounds of golf instead of pay. Recently, the Golf Club of Fleming Island had to pay more than $73,000 to 19 individuals who were classified as starters or rangers.

Although it is widely used, the practice of paying golf course volunteers with free rounds of golf has always been illegal under the FLSA. In-kind services can be paid only for volunteering at charity tournaments or for nonprofit facilities, such as The First Tee.

Since the vast majority of golf courses are in business to make money, they are defined as private sector for-profit organizations and must comply with the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

A company’s best defense against the potential expense and aggravation related to federal or state law violations is to proactively review and revise as needed their Human Resources policies, handbooks, hiring procedures, compensation, benefits, training programs, communications tools and other functions. The professionals of PHHR are ready to assist your organization maintain compliance with the latest state and federal mandates.

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Paul Hilton Human Resources Consulting works with our clients to insure that all required documentation is correct and sufficient to successfully defend against a claim to any unemployment compensation commission.

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Paul Hilton is a certified Human Resources Consultant, located in Columbia, SC.
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Paul Hilton, Human Resources Consulting, LLC
Columbia, South Carolina
Office: (803) 481-9533
Cell: (803) 305-8962 

Paul Hilton, Human Resources Consulting, LLC