May employees covered under the FLSA donate or volunteer time for their employer?

Yes, but be careful! Employees who engage in volunteer work that is identical or similar to their regular work duties are not “volunteering.” They are working, and so they must be paid accordingly. For example, a church office worker who gets paid under the FLSA salary threshold and helps provide extra administrative support for the church’s Vacation Bible School program may not do so as a volunteer. He or she must be paid overtime if VBS involves more than 40 hours of work during a week. On the other hand, such worker who helps out with music or crafts for VBS may well be providing volunteer services, so long as such activities are distinctly different from his or her regular job duties.

Be careful that as an employer, the organization’s leadership does not communicate that any such “volunteering” is mandatory or otherwise expected. Again, such activities would then constitute work for which compensation— including possible overtime pay—would be owed.

This Q&A is from the Answering Your Overtime Questions for Churches and Ministries, written by attorney Sally Wagenmaker, Wagenmaker & Oberly, Chicago and Charleston. This ebook has been published by ECFA. (Hot link the ebook to the title above)


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.

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