Q. I work for a nonprofit organization. Several hourly employees of the organization volunteer during nonworking hours. Is that OK?
A. Maybe. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees must be paid at least minimum wage for each hour they work and overtime for hours in excess of 40 hours per week.
For-profit employers cannot have volunteers, but individuals can volunteer for nonprofit organizations.
The issues get tricky when an employee of a nonprofit organization also wants to volunteer.
Hourly employees of nonprofit companies cannot volunteer to work extra hours without pay. However, an employee may volunteer to perform totally different services for the employer.
In determining whether the volunteer is engaging in the “same type of services” that he or she is getting paid to do, the Department of Labor looks at whether the service is “closely related to the actual duties performed by or the responsibilities assigned to the employee.” For example, a secretary cannot volunteer to respond to correspondence generated by a special fundraising drive. However, the secretary could volunteer to serve water to runners at a fundraising race.