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Workers' Rights in Not-For-Profit Organisations

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 21 Jul 2017 | comments*Discuss
Not-for-profit Organisation Non-profit

The term not-for-profit organisation has no legal meaning in the UK. Even so, the public and the media often use this phrase to describe a range of groups and enterprises.

When people talk about a not-for-profit organisation, they are generally referring to:

  • A social enterprise that uses its surplus income to achieve its social aims, rather than give the income to the business owners or shareholders
  • Community groups
  • Voluntary organisations
  • Charities

Charities are the most common type of not-for-profit organisation. Community groups and voluntary organisations often have charitable status. Social enterprises include Industrial and Provident Societies, Co-operative Societies and Credit Unions.

Many not-for-profit organisations have paid staff. These employees work in hierarchical structures similar to those of private companies.

Workers’ Rights: Terms and Conditions

Workers in the not-for-profit sector have the full statutory rights of UK employees.

Within the first two months of a job, workers must receive a written statement. This should give details of the terms and conditions of their work.

Terms and conditions include:

  • Working hours
  • Amount of pay
  • Entitlement to holiday and sick pay
  • Pension details
  • Disciplinary procedures

Pay must be at or above the National Minimum Wage. Paid holiday should be at least 28 days a year for a full-time worker. For a part-time worker, paid holiday is pro-rata.


A not-for-profit organisation must make a redundancy payment if a worker meets certain criteria:

  • The organisation must have employed the worker for at least two continuous years
  • The organisation must be dismissing the worker specifically because of redundancy

The rules of statutory redundancy pay apply. The age of the worker, length of service and salary are relevant factors in the payment calculation.

Trade Unions

All workers in not-for-profit organisations have the right to join a Trade Union. There is also no legal obligation for workers to join a union at any stage of their careers.

Not-for-profit organisations cannot make trade union membership a requirement of a job. Nor can they prejudice a job applicant’s chances of securing a job if he or she wishes to remain or become a union member.

Health and Safety

Health and safety law applies to any organisation that has at least one paid employee. Not-for-profit organisations with paid staff are therefore subject to Health And Safety Requirements.

This means that workers for not-for-profit organisations have the right to a workplace that is safe, free from health risks and properly supervised.

Senior members of not-for-profit organisations must:

  • Assess risks at work
  • Provide emergency plans
  • Ensure there are suitable first aid facilities

Voluntary Workers

Charities may rely on voluntary workers. Such workers do not have the same rights as those of paid employees.

Volunteers should, however, receive a volunteer agreement before they start work. This describes:

  • The type of work volunteers do
  • The organisation’s equal opportunities policy
  • Insurance details
  • The method of resolving disputes
  • The level of supervision

Volunteers may receive expenses for food, travel and work-related tools and clothing. The National Minimum Wage does not apply to voluntary work. Volunteers are not entitled to sick pay or holiday pay.

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Sue - Your Question:
Help! Advice needed.I have worked in the same pre school and out of school club for the last sixteen years.Our registered person has stepped down and numbers in the school have dropped so they have become unsustainable. Therfore today it has closed. I should be entitled to redundancy but as we have no longer a proper committee where do I go.Any suggestions?

Our Response:
If the company has gone into administration, you can see more via the gov.uk link here.
WorkingRights - 21-Jul-17 @ 2:36 PM
Help! Advice needed. I have worked in the same pre school and out of school club for the last sixteen years. Our registered person has stepped down and numbers in the school have dropped so they have become unsustainable. Therfore today it has closed. I should be entitled to redundancy but as we have no longer a proper committee where do I go. Any suggestions?
Sue - 21-Jul-17 @ 10:19 AM
Hi there I have worked for the same company for 9 years. About 5 years ago they changed contract terms and conditions for new employees.There are only 4 of us left on the old contracts. They employ about 30 people. They now want to change the four of us left to the new terms and conditions. They are stating financial reasons but I feel they have just come up with a list of reasons to justify the financial savings they wish to make. The changes are:- Increasing working week hours from 44 to 46 hours a week. Removing 4 weeks holiday entitlement from 13 to 9 ( its a school ) Removing sick pay from 6 months to 2 weeks full, 2 weeks half and no pay the first day ill. Changing pension ( not sure yet of the details of that ) They have given 3 months notice and said no changes will be made without my expressed consent. Any advice appreciated
Sue - 3-Jun-17 @ 10:08 AM
@Mikey - your company should have outlined its policies on this in your contract. Many companies will honour commission on leads gained by you while you were employed and which were then made into sales.
WorkingRights - 31-Jul-15 @ 1:05 PM
I once worked in the capacity of a self employed, commission only independent contractor for a private company. I would be interested to know whether or not my former employer has alegal obligation to pay an apportionment of sales for those sales I initiated but were unable to completed.
Mikey - 30-Jul-15 @ 5:15 PM
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