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Civil Liability Laws

In some countries volunteers are liable for unintentional accidents or mistakes made while they are volunteering, and such liability may act as a substantial disincentive for volunteer work. Policymakers should consider amending liability rules to provide for limited or total exceptions for individuals engaged in volunteer work. For example, Australia amended the Civil Liability Act in 2003 to protect volunteers from civil liability while they are carrying out community work.

Workplace Safety and Health Rules

Finally, for the protection and well-being of volunteers, workplace safety and health rules should explicitly be made to apply to volunteers as well as paid employees. If volunteers do not feel that their safety and health is being protected, they may be less likely to engage in volunteerism in this case it is the absence of law that acts as an obstacle to increased volunteerism. In recognition of this issue, in 2003 the government of New Zealand acted to extend the Health and Safety Employment Act to include most volunteers. Similarly, South Korea’s Law on Promoting Volunteer Services of 2006 requires national and local governments to ensure that voluntary service is performed in a safe environment, and an associated Enforcement Decree permits national and local governments to purchase insurance to protect volunteers engaged in risky volunteer activities.


The preceding two sections explored several common goals and challenges to volunteerism laws and policies. Of course, these goals and challenges are not applicable in all contexts. In order to help determine the necessary and applicable goals to be achieved as well as the potential challenges that volunteerism laws or policies may face, policymakers should conduct a well-constructed needs assessment process. In designing a needs assessment, policymakers may wish to consider the following questions.

  • Current profile of volunteering. Who volunteers? What types of organizations most often host volunteers (i.e. formal organizations like CSOs, traditional community / indigenous organizations, or informal person-to-person volunteer exchanges)? Who are the main beneficiaries of volunteer work? Are there specific community groups or regions that have a higher or lower percentage of volunteer activity than the national average, and if so, why? How many persons volunteer each year, and how much time do they contribute in total?

  • Cultural context. What effect does the prevailing culture have upon volunteerism? Is volunteerism already well-established? What is the prevailing understanding of volunteerism and are

As part of China’s ongoing effort to draft a Volunteer Service Law, policymakers initiated a needs assessment process that takes into consideration contributions from provincial authorities, the Communist Youth League, national legislators, and academics.

When the Philippines began evaluating existing volunteerism practices, it found that a large proportion of citizen volunteerism occurs overseas where millions of Filipino workers reside. To support and strengthen this tradition, the 2007 Act on Strengthening Volunteerism explicitly allocated legal rights to and created incentives for overseas Filipino volunteers and on par with those given to domestic volunteers.


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