Youth group wage proviso proposed

Youth volunteering charities v and ProjectScotland could be exempted from the application of minimum wage rules to volunteers, a Government consultation has suggested.

Under current law, volunteers who receive anything over and above pocket expenses - such as allowances or training that does not relate directly to their voluntary work - could argue that they are entitled to the minimum wage.

A Government consultation called The National Minimum Wage and Voluntary Workers has recognised that this might cause difficulties for youth volunteering programmes, which increasingly offer incentives to those who take part.

The consultation, which is currently inviting views from the sector, suggested an exemption for v and ProjectScotland, its Scottish equivalent, which are funded by the Government.

However, fellow volunteering charity WRVS has warned that the move could discriminate against volunteers aged over 25.

"We need to have a level playing field, allowing volunteers of all age groups to take advantage of training opportunities and other benefits not directly related to the voluntary work they're doing," said Jane Balinski, executive director for corporate affairs and people at WRVS.

"Any other course of action would discriminate against volunteers who are aged over 25."

A spokeswoman for v said: "We believe that any proposed amendment to the national minimum wage regulations would need to take account of the diverse needs of young volunteers and of the impact on the sector as a whole."

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, which is running the consultation for the application of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, declined to comment.

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