What does the Health and Safety Reform Bill mean for your business? - Part 7: How Are Volunteers Covered By The Bill?

25/09/2014 09:47

WorkSafe NZ is providing a serious of updates that seek to explain different parts of the proposed Health and Safety Bill.

These updates provide an overview of the key parts of the Bill as introduced to Parliament, to help you understand some of its key concepts. This will help ensure you’re prepared for when the law comes into effect in 2015.

If you would like to know more about how this will affect your business call Health and Safety East Coast on 0272878747 or email us at healthsafe_ec@yahoo.com


How Are Volunteers Covered By The Bill+ Examples

There are three volunteer roles under the Bill:

Volunteer worker - a volunteer is only regarded as a worker if they work for a PCBU. Where they work for a PCBU, they will have the duties of a worker, and the PCBU will owe them duties as workers.

Volunteer association – this is a group of volunteers working together for a community purpose and on a voluntary basis and who do not employ any person. Volunteer associations are not PCBUs and therefore don’t have the PCBU duty in the Bill.

But if any of the volunteers employs a worker, they are regarded as a PCBU and owe corresponding duties.

Volunteer directors or other officers of a PCBU – volunteer officers of a PCBU will owe the due diligence duty but it is not an offence if they fail to meet this duty. Directors or officers of a volunteer association will not owe any due diligence duty as the volunteer association is not a PCBU.



[image] PCBU or Volunteer association flowchart.


Text of the above flowchart

Are you and all others involved in the business or undertaking acting on a voluntary basis?

No - The organisation is a PCBU and will owe duties, including to all its workers, (paid or volunteers) [ENDS]

Yes - Are you working for a community purpose?

No - The organisation is a PCBU and will owe duties, including to all its workers, (paid or volunteers) [ENDS]

Yes - Do any of you employ someone to carry out work for the business or undertaking?

YES - The organisation is a PCBU and will owe duties, including to all its workers, (paid or volunteers) [ENDS]

NO - The organisation is a VOLUNTEER ASSOCIATION. It is not a PCBU and does not owe any duties under the Bill. [ENDS]

Some Volunteer Scenarios

Scenario 1: A purely voluntary undertaking

Margaret and several of her friends are keen chefs, concerned about their community's homeless population. They have started a club, which they call “Delicious Delights”, to prepare meals and baked goods for the homeless. The club meets a couple of times a week at a member's house, where they each bring along one or two food creations they have made, and also will each normally prepare a couple of meals or baked goods together at the member's home. The food is then distributed to the homeless and/or donated to the local homeless shelter – “Sanctuary”.

  • Delicious Delights is a volunteer association and is not a PCBU and will not owe any duties under the Bill.
  • Margaret and her friends are volunteers, but as Delicious Delights is not a PCBU, they do not owe any duty as workers.


Scenario 2: A volunteer undertaking work for a PCBU

The local homeless shelter, Sanctuary, is an incorporated society that employees Martin as Manager and Sally, part-time, to do administration tasks. The effective running of Sanctuary is dependent on a number of volunteers, including Margaret. Separately from “Delicious Delights”, Margaret volunteers at Sanctuary two or three mornings a week doing washing, cleaning and other odd jobs as directed by the Manager, Martin.

  • Sanctuary is a PCBU and owes duties under the Bill, including to all of its workers (paid and unpaid).
  • Martin and Sally are workers of Sanctuary.
  • Margaret and all the other volunteers are also workers of Sanctuary.
  • All of the workers (paid and volunteer) have the duties of workers under the Bill.


Scenario 3: Where an employment relationship exists

Word has gotten out about the fabulous quality and quick and easy nature of the meals Delicious Delights donates to Sanctuary. A larger community organisation wishes Delicious Delights to prepare meals for its three-a-week “Open Meal Night” that it arranges for anyone in the community who is suffering financially and needs a free, balanced, meal. Margaret and her friends have decided to incorporate Delicious Delights into an incorporated society and Margaret, along with three others, will act as the “Board” and make all governance decisions for Delicious Delights.

Delicious Delights is being paid for its work each week for “Open Meal Night”. The money received will cover the costs of ingredients with some additional funds left over to pay Leanne (on a part-time basis), a retired accountant, to do organisational and administrative tasks and keep the accounts for Delicious Delights. Margaret, the other members of the Board and everyone else involved in preparing meals continue to do this on a voluntary basis.

  • As Delicious Delights Incorporated now employs Leanne it is a PCBU and will owe duties under the Bill, including duties to all its workers (paid and volunteer).
  • Margaret and the other “Board” members are officers of Delicious Delights and owe the officer’s due diligence duty.
  • As Margaret and the other “Board” members are volunteers for the purposes of the Bill, they will not commit an offence for breach of their officer’s due diligence duty.
  • Leanne (as a paid employee) and everyone else who works in Delicious Delights (who are volunteers) are workers of Delicious Delights and will owe the duties of workers under the Bill.