Rights and obligations

Volunteering in Spain

20 / Mar

If you volunteer at an association or foundation, you may or may not be aware of the fact that you cannot just do whatever you want, but that, just like a paid job, you have responsibilities. For instance, you must obey management rules, be respectful of your colleagues and perform your activities properly. However, you also have rights as a volunteer.

In Spain there is a law on volunteering, la Ley 45/2015, de 14 de octubre, de Voluntariado, which has been elaborated in several Autonomous Communities, as for example in Valencia through la Ley 4/2001, de 19 de junio, del Voluntariado.

A volunteer is someone who voluntarily carries out specific work without pay (expenses are allowed) at a voluntary organisation such as an animal shelter or charity.

For details, we recommend reading Ley 45/2015.

Yet many volunteers often think they have no duties because they are not paid. However, these are the legal duties of volunteers (art. 11 of Ley 45/2015):

  • Fulfil the commitments entered into with the voluntary organisations in which they are integrated, reflected in the agreement between the two, respecting the objectives and statutes of the organisation.

You can think here about respecting the days you are assigned and cancelling in time if you cannot make it. But also about respecting the internal rules regarding the performance of your duties.

  • Respecting the necessary confidentiality of the information received and known when carrying out volunteer work.

This means not posting everything on Facebook for example!

  • Refusing any material or economic compensation they may receive from the recipients of the voluntary action or from people helped by the work.

If your job is to offer clothes to people with little money, you are not supposed to take money from those people for offering the clothes.

  • Respecting the rights of the recipients of the voluntary aid in the conditions provided in Article 16.
  • Acting with due diligence and solidarity.
  • Participating in the training or courses provided by the volunteer organisation for the assigned activities and functions, as well as those permanently required to maintain the quality of the services provided.
  • Following the instructions of the volunteer organisation related to the execution of the entrusted activities.

Respect the internal rules and the instructions of the managers! As a volunteer, just like an employee at a paid job, you have to do what the management tells you to do. The management is responsible for the organisation, so the volunteer does not decide what should be done or how it should be done.

  •  Make proper use of the volunteer organisation’s personal accreditation and badges.

Do not misuse your name badge. Do not pretend to be working for the organisation in your spare time.

  • Respect and care for the material resources provided by the volunteer organisation.
  • Complying with existing health and safety measures in the volunteer organisation.
  • Complying with the rules on personal data protection and processing in accordance with the provisions of Ley 15/1999 of 13 December and other applicable regulations.

However, the same National Law 45/2015, in Art. 10, also describes the rights of volunteers:

  • To receive regular information, guidance and support during the performance of their activity, as well as the material resources necessary for the performance of the functions entrusted to them.
  • To receive at all times, at the volunteer organisation’s expense, and adapted to their personal circumstances, the necessary training for the proper development of the activities entrusted to them.
  • To be treated on the basis of equality, without discrimination, respecting their freedom, identity, dignity and the other fundamental rights recognised in conventions, international treaties and in the Constitution.
  • To participate actively in the organisation in which they are placed, to take part in the elaboration, design, implementation and evaluation of programmes or projects, in accordance with their statutes or application regulations and, to the extent they allow, in the leadership and administration of the voluntary organisation.
  • Be covered, by the volunteer organisation, for the risks of accidents and illness directly arising from the exercise of voluntary action and civil liability in cases where required by sectoral legislation, through insurance or other financial security.

The volunteer organisation must have insurance that covers volunteers while carrying out their activities!

  • Be compensated by the volunteer organisation for expenses incurred in carrying out their activities, in accordance with the conditions of the agreement of establishment and taking into account the scope of the volunteer activity they develop.

This concerns only an allowance for expenses, but not a salary. And only when agreed in advance.

  • Having an identification accreditation of their volunteer status, which also mentions the voluntary organisation they are participating in.

Think for example of a name tag.

  • Being able to carry out their activity in accordance with the principle of universal accessibility, adapted to the activity they carry out.
  • Receiving recognition from the voluntary organisation for the social value of their contribution and for the competences, abilities and skills they have acquired as a result of exercising their voluntary activity.
  • That personal data is processed and protected in accordance with the terms of Organic Law 15/1999 of 13 December, Protection of Personal Data.
  • To stop performing their activities as a volunteer under the conditions set out in the agreement between volunteer organisation and volunteer.

If you want to know more about your rights and obligations as a volunteer, look not only at Ley 45/2015, but also at the legislation that may exist in your Autonomous Region, province or town. And of course, ask the volunteer organisation about its internal rules as well.

Ilonka Dekker