April - Volunteers in the Workplace

Let’s spread some cheer for our great volunteers!  

This month the focus is on Volunteers in the workplace. Volunteer involvement is vital for strong and connected communities and provides organizations with indispensable skills, talents and perspectives. 

Volunteers as Workers

In Alberta, volunteers are covered by the OHS Act; however, there must be a “volunteer-employer relationship” established first.  There are 3 conditions that need to be met to create such a relationship according to AB legislation:

  1. the organization requests the volunteer’s participation to perform work for the organization;
  2. the organization accepts volunteers to do the work (informally or formally); and
  3. the volunteer performs or takes part in the work.

OHS legislation does not apply when a volunteer decides on their own to provide a service without the organization’s knowledge, and the organization did not request the service, for example if a group decided to get together to do independent fund raising or a group of residents volunteering their time as a support group for others in the community.

Volunteers who meet these conditions are covered by the same legislation as any other worker and have the same rights as all other workers at the worksite: 1) the Right to Know, 2) the Right to Participate, 3) the Right to Refuse Dangerous Work.   Employers are responsible for the safety of volunteers, and volunteers, in turn, have safety responsibilities to the employer and any other work site parties at your organization.

In a nutshell, workers and volunteers are responsible for:

  • ensuring the health and safety of themselves and others,
  • cooperating with their employer/supervisor for purposes of health and safety,
  • using all devices and wear all required personal protective equipment (PPE),
  • reporting unsafe or unhealthy conditions, and
  • refraining from causing or participating in violence and harassment.

Employers, you are responsible for ensuring your workers and volunteers about their rights and responsibilities under the OHS legislation. 







Click the graphic to download

Volunteers do important WORK!

The Alberta Government provides some great resources further explaining other work site parties’ responsibilities:

Learn more from about OHS as it pertains to volunteers and students.
Learn more from about employers’ roles in OHS.
Learn more from about workers’ roles in OHS.

Food Lifeline Safety Video: Nick and Nate Volunteer at a Food Warehouse: Just because safety doesn't have to be boring!

Celebrate Your Volunteers!

National Volunteer Week is April 7 – 13.  How are you going to show your appreciation?

See what’s happening in your town for National Volunteer Week!

Recognition Strategies

Did you know that according to a 2013 Volunteer Recognition Study by Volunteer Canada and Investors Group, “Volunteers want to be thanked and shown how they have made a difference – they want to know the impact of their contributions.”  This is an easy and inexpensive way to show appreciation to the work our Volunteers do every day!

Volunteer Canada has developed a tool to help match recognition strategies to the preferences of volunteers: Volunteer Recognition Tool 

According to Volunteering Australia, there are 101 Ways to Recognise Your Volunteers!

It is important to recognize the many ways volunteers benefit organizations,  but also the many ways they positively impact our resident's lives!
There are soooo many ways volunteers help in continuing care! Just to name a few...

Volunteer Resources

Young people are volunteering now more than ever.  Check out Volunteer Canada's: 10 ways to to make your organization Youth-Friendly .  

The Canadian Code for Volunteer Improvement is a framework to help design and implement your volunteer program.

G2 Crowd: 8 Free Volunteer Management Tools for Nonprofits (please note that the free versions are pretty basic)

Have you heard of GOZaround? According to their website they are a FREE Edmonton-based platform that matches volunteers and organizations "based on location, schedule and causes ...and provides a way to recognize new and current volunteers with verified hours logged to their social impact profiles."

Volunteer Canada: programs, research, training, tools, resources and national initiatives on Volunteering.

Volunteer Alberta: 10 steps to screening video​