The federal Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division has recognized that a person may volunteer time to religious, charitable, civic, humanitarian, or similar non-profit organizations as a public service and not be covered by the FLSA. Such a person volunteers freely for such organizations without compensation or expectation of compensation.
Such activities are described by the DOL as “ordinary volunteerism.” In determining whether an activity is “ordinary volunteerism,” the DOL considers a variety of factors, including:
- Nature of the entity receiving the services (nonprofit, for instance)
- Compensation of any sort (such as money, room & board, perks, etc.)
- Expectations of benefits in the future
- Whether the activity is less than a full-time occupation
- Whether regular employees are displaced
- Whether the services are offered freely without pressure or coercion, and
- Whether the services are of the kind typically associated with volunteer work.
If an individual volunteers in a part of a nonprofit which is commercial and that serves the public, such as stores or restaurants, the DOL does not recognize them as volunteers for FLSA purposes.