The Facts about Volunteering & Social Welfare

The Facts about Volunteering while Jobseeking

Volunteering while Jobseeking can be very rewarding. It can allow the Jobseeker to explore their options, make connections and generally have a positive routine. It is also valuable on your CV and you can draw on your volunteering experience in an Interview.

However, there is some confusion out there as to how it might impact on your benefits. 

The Facts- Volunteers! 

  • You are allowed to volunteer while receiving Jobseekers Benefit and Jobseekers Allowance, in fact the Department want to encourage it - but there are a few conditions.*People in receipt of other benefits such as Disability Payment, Carers Payments etc. my need to read specific conditions for their payment rules. See below.
  • The most important condition is that you need to be available for and genuinely seeking employment. The amount of hours you volunteer for is not necessarily a barrier.
  • Your volunteering activities need to be really voluntary i.e. unpaid, and the organisation you volunteer with has to be not-for-profit.
  • You should inform your deciding officer that you’re volunteering. You can do this when signing on. INTREO are supportive of people volunteering while jobseeking.
  • They will then give you a form to bring to the organisation you’re volunteering with (it’s called a VW1 form) and the organisation will fill in the form and return it to DSP. You may have to sign a part of it. This form is not designed to 'check up on you' - it is actually about making sure the organisation is an organisation who genuinely involves volunteers for genuine reasons. 
  • The Deciding Officer decides if the person can volunteer or not based on the type of volunteering involved; the aims and standing of the voluntary body; the weekly hours volunteered;   and the amount of any payment received by way of out-of-pocket expenses. Note: there are no set weekly hours, and even people who contribute lots of voluntary hours may not be affected.

Other Payments:

Disability Payments: If you are in reciept of Disability Allowance, Illness benefit or Invalidity Pension, you must get permission to volunteer before you begin. 

If you are getting Invalidity Pension you cannot do more than 19.5 hours per week voluntary work (no limits for those in receipt of Illness benefit or Disability Allowance)

If you are in receipt of Carer's Allowance, you can do a maximum of 15 hours per week voluntary work. You must get permission from Department of Social Protection before commencing Volunteer Work. 

The Facts - Volunteer Involving Organisations

As an organisation who involves volunteers, you may be required to register your intention to involve volunteers who are in receipt of Social Welfare benefits with the local Social Welfare Office. This will probably come about when a volunteer presents you wil a VW1 Form to sign. 

This form is about making sure your organisation is one who genuinely involves volunteers for genuine reasons and that you are not 'paying' volunteers of relacing paid work with volunteers. 

Having a VW1 Form completed in respect of volunteers in receipt of benefits protects both sides. 

Further Information:

Citizens Information: http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/voluntary_work_and_social_welfare_payments.html

Department of Social Protection: http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Voluntary-Work-Option_holder.aspx

 

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