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Law and volunteering

Law and volunteering

The basic legal act regulating voluntary activity is the Act of 24 April 2003 on Public Benefit and Volunteer Work, i.e. Journal of Laws of 2020, item 1057 (hereinafter the PBVW Act)*

The PBVW Act specifies:

  • definition of volunteering,
  • who can be a volunteer,
  • on whose behalf the volunteer can work,
  • rights and obligations of a volunteer,
  • rights and obligations of a volunteer using the work.

Detailed regulations on volunteering also include:

  • internal legal acts of the user, e.g. internal regulations,
  • individual, referring to a specific volunteer and resulting from the concluded agreement with the user, e.g. a voluntary agreement.

Who is a volunteer?

A volunteer is a natural person who voluntarily performs services without remuneration in accordance with the principles set out in the Act on Public Benefit and Volunteer Work.

Who is the recipient?

  • non-governmental organizations and entities in the field of their statutory activities, in particular in the field of public benefit activities, with the exception of their economic activities (Article 2 and Article 3 (3) of the PBVW Act),
  • public administration bodies, organizational units subordinate to public administration bodies or supervised by these bodies, with the exception of their economic activity,
  • healthcare entities within the meaning of the provisions on medical activity in the scope of medical activity performed by them.

Who can volunteer?

EVERYONE can volunteer, but not everyone everywhere.

Any natural person may be a volunteer, regardless of:

  • age - there is no lower or upper limit, but in the case of persons under 18 years of age, the consent of their parents or guardians is required. Special regulations or internal rules in force in palliative care facilities may provide for exceptions to the above rule,
  • the situation on the labor market - working people, students, unemployed, self-employed, retirees, pensioners,
  • lack of legal capacity or its limitations - this does not constitute an obstacle to being a volunteer, unless specific regulations provide otherwise.

If there are restrictions on the age, education or qualifications of the volunteer, they are related to the performance of activities that are regulated by other legal acts (e.g. a certain type of activity may only be performed by adults).

Volunteer qualifications

As a rule, a volunteer may perform any activity. If one legal provision requires certain qualifications / entitlements to perform this activity, the volunteer must have them.

Volunteer agreement

The agreement that the volunteer concludes with the Regional Volunteer Center is a civil law agreement. It must define: the scope, manner and time of providing services by the volunteer, a provision on the possibility of terminating the agreement. The agreement generator can be found on the RVC website -

If the voluntary agreement is concluded for a period not exceeding 30 calendar days - it may be oral or written. If the voluntary agreement is concluded for a period exceeding 30 calendar days - it must be in writing.

Volunteer insurance

  • mandatory: accident insurance
  • optional: health and liability insurance

If the voluntary agreement is concluded for a period not exceeding 30 calendar days, the cost of the insurance is covered by the user, who is obliged to insure the volunteer against accident insurance (Consequences of Accidents).

If the voluntary agreement concluded for a period exceeding 30 calendar days, the volunteer is covered by the same insurance as the persons employed under the employment contract, and the user does not bear any costs related to the volunteer's insurance.

The obligations of the user are detailed in the Act on PBVW, the most important of which are:

  • inform the volunteer about their rights and obligations and ensure the availability of this information,
  • inform the volunteer about the health and safety risks associated with the services provided and about the principles of protection against threats,
  • provide the volunteer, on the terms applicable to employees, specified in separate regulations, with safe and hygienic conditions for the provision of services, including - depending on the type of services and risks related to their performance - appropriate personal protective equipment,
  • cover the costs of business travel and subsistence allowances (on the terms applicable to employees, as specified in separate regulations)
  • issue, at the volunteer's request, a certificate of completed volunteering, including its scope and number of hours.

* Act in Polish language.