A Volunteer is not a Volunteer If You Pay Them

A major issue for clubs has been paying so called ‘volunteers’ for providing services such as coaching. Clubs need to ensure that they are clear about this and that anyone who does get paid for their time is treated as a paid worker,

A Volunteer is not a Volunteer If You Pay Them

A flurry of news headlines and articles hit the news last week as HMRC continue their investigations into those working and volunteering in sport.

The papers inevitably took the view that this was grossly unfair on voluntary organisations and took the opportunity to highlight the tax schemes that the big boys like Google use to legally avoid paying tax on their profits.

Looking at the results of the investigations, the biggest issue for clubs has been paying so called ‘volunteers’ for providing services such as coaching.   One cricket club official was interviewed on TV stating that one of their volunteers gave up his time in the evening to coach their youngsters and that to tax the £20 they gave him for expenses was grossly unfair.    I heard this and wondered if there are other officials in sport who feel the same, bearing in mind that paying someone for the coaching they do is not them ‘giving up their time’.

If someone really does ‘give up their time’, this should mean that they are truly a volunteer and not being paid for their time.   Clubs need to ensure that they are clear about this and that anyone who does get paid for their time is treated as a paid worker, with the appropriate paperwork and deduction of any tax/NI.

One significant issue with paying for services is that the club will have significant responsibilities to the worker and is likely to require additional insurance cover and attention to health and safety obligations – clubs should be aware of this or avoid any issues by NOT PAYING their volunteers.

Now is a good time for clubs and coaches to review who they do and don’t pay and make sure any relevant paperwork is in place.   We do come across a lot of clubs who pay people and call it expenses – this is actually a payment for services unless you are getting receipts/claim form in return.

Please call the GBSport office for further advice and assistance on 01952 201657.

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