Persons in volunteer work are defined as all those of working age who, during a short reference period, performed any unpaid, non-compulsory activity to produce goods or provide services for others, where:

  • “any activity” refers to work for at least one hour;
  • “unpaid” is interpreted as the absence of remuneration in cash or in kind for work done or hours worked; nevertheless, volunteer workers may receive some small form of support or stipend in cash, when below one third of local market wages (e.g. for out-of-pocket expenses or to cover living expenses incurred for the activity), or in kind (e.g. meals, transportation, symbolic gifts);
  • “non-compulsory” is interpreted as work carried out without civil, legal or administrative requirement, that are different from the fulfilment of social responsibilities of a communal, cultural or religious nature;
  • production “for others” refers to work performed:
    • through, or for organizations comprising market and non-market units (i.e. organization based volunteering) including through or for self-help, mutual aid or community-based groups of which the volunteer is a member;
    • for households other than the household of the volunteer worker or of related family members (i.e. direct volunteering).

Excluded from volunteer work:

  • community service and work by prisoners ordered by a court or similar authority, compulsory military or alternative civilian service;
  • unpaid work required as part of education or training programmes (i.e. unpaid trainees);
  • work for others performed during the working time associated with employment, or during paid time off from an employee job granted by the employer
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