Groom v Maritime & Coastguard Agency [2024] EAT 71 - EAT held that a volunteer was a worker when attending activities for which they were entitled to remuneration.

The Claimant was a volunteer in the Coastal Rescue Service (CRS). He brought a claim because he was not permitted to be accompanied by a trade union representative at a disciplinary hearing. He argued that he was a worker under section 230(3)(b) of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

The CRS volunteer handbook stated that appointments were voluntary. It also set out what was expected of volunteers, including attending training and "maintaining a reasonable level of incident attendance". For certain activities, volunteers could claim "minor costs caused by your volunteering, and to compensate for any disruption to your personal life and employment and for unsocial hours call outs." Many volunteers did not claim any costs.

The Employment Tribunal held that the Claimant was not an employee as there was no employment contract or automatic right to remuneration.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal allowed the Claimant's appeal. It concluded there is no definition of "volunteer" and that volunteer status will differ depending on the particular arrangement between the parties. The EAT held that the fact that expenses were not paid automatically and some volunteers did not claim them was irrelevant. A contract came into existence when a volunteer attended a relevant activity for which they had a right to remuneration. In addition, a volunteer's attendance was governed by a Code of Conduct, which set minimum attendance levels at training and rescue incidents. These gave rise to a contract for providing services rather than simply an agreement to reimburse expenses.

For legal help or advice on employment law matters please speak to Emma-Louise Hewitt on 08081668860


UK Top Tier Firm 2022 Lexcel Practice Management Standard Birmingham Law Firm of the Year for 2021 Resolution Collaborative Family Lawyer
The Law Society Accredited in Family Law Conveyancing Quality Scheme