Must we pay employees who volunteer at a company-sponsored event?

Q. Our company is sponsoring a community art fair, and several employees have volunteered to help at the event. Do we need to compensate those employees for the time they spend volunteering?

Not necessarily. An employee may volunteer for an employer-sponsored event without compensation if the services he or she provides are not the same type of service that the employee is employed to perform, and the volunteer activity takes place outside of the employee’s normal working hours.

In addition, the employees must be performing services for civic, charitable or humanitarian reasons without coercion or undue pressure.

If the employee’s regular duties are similar to the volunteer activity, then the employee would need to be compensated for this time. For example, a school administrator may volunteer to chaperone children at a school field trip, but it may not be appropriate for a teacher whose regular duties involve supervising children to perform the same volunteer services.

Provided the employees are performing the volunteer activities outside regular working hours and the duties are not similar to their normal duties, accepting their offer to volunteer should be fine.