Volunteering while unemployed

Volunteering while unemployed

If you are in receipt of payments from the Department of Social Protection due to being unemployed or disabled, you can absolutely volunteer - in fact it can be very beneficial to you as a person to get involved in volunteering.

It is true there are some criteria that may apply - and occasionally some volunteers are given mistaken information about volunteering and being unemployed.

People who are in receipt of Jobseeker supports can do certain forms of voluntary work without losing their Unemployment Assistance/Unemployment Benefit and any other entitlements while remaining on the live register. However the individual must still meet the conditions for receiving their unemployment benefit, i.e. you must still be actively and genuinely seeking work and be available to take up work as soon as an opportunity comes your way. Volunteers should be aware that a commitment to full time volunteering may deem you unavailable for work, which may affect your entitlements.

Voluntary organisation who wish to have individuals in receipt of Social Welfare must have approval from the individual\'s local employment exchange before taking on the volunteer. To do this, the organisation must complete an application form (VW1) which can be obtained from the local office of the Department of Social Protection or by clicking here.

A number of factors are taken into account by a Deciding Officer in determining whether the work involved is voluntary and whether a person would continue to satisfy the conditions for the receipt of JA, and these include:

  • the aims and standing of the voluntary organisation,
  • the nature of the work involved, the weekly number of hours worked.
  • The employment must be truly voluntary and the Deciding Officer must be satisfied that the unemployed person is not engaging in work that would normally warrant liability for the payment of PRSI

The Voluntary Work Option embraces a wide variety of voluntary activities, e.g. but not limited to, assisting the elderly, the sick or the handicapped in their homes or in institutions or assisting voluntary bodies such as youth clubs and resident associations. A person who wishes to apply for payment under the Voluntary Work Option must complete an application form (VW1), which is available from Social Protection Local Offices. The application form VW1 should be submitted to the relevant Local Office for decision before s/he commences the voluntary work.

Illness benefit or disability benefit

If you are receiving illness or disability benefit, according to the Department of Social Protection then you are allowed to engage in: work for which you do not get paid, or work you do as part of treatment while you are a patient in hospital or a similar place, or work you do as an out-worker under a charitable scheme, as long as your weekly earnings are under a certain limit.

You must first get permission from the Department of Social Protection before doing work of any kind. Contact 1890 66 22 44 Disability Allowance section of the Department of Social and Family Affairs on 1809 66 22 44 or contact your local office.

Invalidity Pension

A person receiving an invalidity pension may volunteer, with the prior written permission of an officer of the Minister. For further information contact the Department of Social and Family Affairs on 1890 66 22 44 or phone your local office.

All information in this fact-sheet is taken from the Department of Social Protection web site. If you have any queries about any of the information above, please contact the Department of Social Protection

The benefits of volunteering, while unemployed include:

1. Gain Job Experience Volunteer experience looks great on a resume. Also, some of the work you do could lead to a job doing similar work.

2. Improve Your Health and Self-Esteem Volunteering to help others has been shown to reduce stress, give you hope, and boost your self-esteem.

3. Meet Real Community Needs Helping people learn to read, or get basic food, clothing, shelter or furniture makes a huge difference! Whether the project is planting a tree or tutoring children, the community will look and feel better.

4. Gain New Skills and Develop Talents Whether you enjoy working with computers, children, or seniors, any interest you have can be developed through volunteering.

5. Potential employers By volunteering, unemployed people are showing potential employers that they can commit to work, are used to the work routine and have recently used, and possibly improved, their skills.

If you need further assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us.