Difference between a volunteer and an employee

The Fair Work Commission in Grinholz v Football Federation Victoria Inc has provided useful criteria, which can be used in order to determine whether a contract is an employment contract or a contract between a volunteer and an organisation.[1]

When determining whether a contract is an employment contract, the Fair Work Commission will have regard to a number of factors, including:

  • Does the individual work solely for the organisation?
  • Does the organisation deduct income tax from remuneration paid?
  • Is the individual paid by periodic wages or a salary?
  • Does the individual’s work create goodwill or saleable assets for the employer’s business?

These factors are not exhaustive. However, they are still a useful guide for how the Fair Work Commission will determine whether a contract is an employment contract or a contract with an independent contractor, under workplace law.

Tips for Employers

Employers should:

  • seek employment law advice from an employment lawyer, if you are unsure about the characterisation of an individual’s role within your organisation
  • keep up to date with any changes to workplace law to ensure that your employment contracts comply with workplace law
  • ensure compliance with any obligations imposed by workplace laws, especially when drafting employment contracts


If you would like more information about this article or if you would like any assistance in other employment law matters from an employment lawyer in Sydney, please feel free to speak with or email one of our specialist employment lawyers on (02) 9635 7966 or info@matthewsfolbigg.com.au

DISCLAIMER: This article is provided to clients and readers for their general information and on a complimentary basis. It contains a brief summary only and should not be relied upon or used as definitive or complete statement of the relevant workplace law.

[1] [2016] FWC 7976