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Volunteers are not protected by anti-discrimination law

Posted: 14th April 2011   In: Business Employment, Individual Employment

Unpaid volunteers are not ‘employees’ as far as anti-discrimination law is concerned and so they do not have the same protection as paid workers.

That was the ruling of the Court of Appeal in the case of a volunteer who worked for the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

When the CAB told her it no longer wanted her services, she claimed it was discriminating against her because of her disability.

However, the Court of Appeal held that an unpaid volunteer could not be classed as an employee for the purposes of UK anti-discrimination law or European Union regulations. The protection could only extend to paid workers.

Lord Justice Elias said: “The concept of worker has been restricted to persons who are remunerated for what they do. The concept of occupation is essentially an overlapping one, and I see no reason to suppose that it was intended to cover non-remunerated work.”

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