A jobseeker who engages in voluntary work within the State may continue to be entitled to a jobseekers payment provided that, in engaging in the voluntary work, they continue to satisfy the statutory conditions of being available for and genuinely seeking work.
Examples of voluntary work in which jobseekers may engage include
- helping the sick, elderly or persons with a disability
- assisting youth clubs, church groups, sports groups, cultural organisations, local resident associations
The groups involved may be nationally organised groups or local voluntary or community groups.
Aims of the Voluntary Work Option
The aim of the Voluntary Work Option is twofold, namely – to encourage voluntary organisations to involve jobseekers to the greatest extent possible in their existing activities by creating new opportunities for voluntary work and to inform jobseekers of their freedom to involve themselves in voluntary work and to encourage them to do so.
While it is not possible to lay down hard and fast rules as to what constitutes voluntary work the position should be clear in most cases. Factors to be taken into account will include:
- the type of work involved,
- the aims and standing of the voluntary body,
- the weekly hours worked,
- amount of any payment received by way of out-of-pocket expenses
The voluntary work would normally involve only a few hours a day or a few days a week but full-time involvement in voluntary activities would not necessarily be ruled out. However, there should be no implication of Job Replacement or Cheap Labour. Any payment for the voluntary work should generally be limited to out-of-pocket expenses such as travelling expenses or meal allowances.
How to Apply
The jobseeker or the voluntary organisation/group involved should request an application form VW 1 from their Local Social Welfare Office.
Where to Apply
The completed application form should be sent to the Local Office and a Deciding Officer will determine whether the customer may take up the work in question without affecting entitlement to the jobseekers payment.
Decisions in relation to Voluntary Work
In considering an application, the Deciding Officer will determine whether the work concerned is voluntary within the meaning of the scheme and whether the jobseeker would continue to satisfy the statutory conditions for getting the jobseekers payment. The Deciding Officer will need to be satisfied that the jobseeker is available to take up employment, if offered it, and that they are making genuine efforts to find work. This applies whether the voluntary work is full or part-time.