Volunteers are those who carry out unpaid work for a charity, voluntary organisation, or a fundraising body. The University uses volunteers to add value to its core activities and promote public engagement and not as a replacement for paid staff. Volunteers are not employees of the University and should be treated in accordance with the terms of the University’s volunteer policy and the volunteer guidance issued by the departments in which they perform their voluntary activities.
Reimbursement of expenses
Volunteers may be reimbursed the actual costs of expenses incurred, including travel. For volunteers that do not hold any post, office or employment, the cost of travel can include travel between home and the place where the activities take place without incurring tax.
Claims should be made via the Expenses process, subject to the requirements of the policy.
Payment in return for services
Income tax is only chargeable on an individual providing services where that individual:
- holds an office or an employment. In this context, an office holder includes any individual elected or appointed under the constitution of any body (including sports and social clubs, honorary positions, etc.
- receives earnings from that office or employment. This includes including round-sum payments to cover time spent and payment in kind as well as cash.
Generally if an office holder receives payment in return for holding that office – then this is usually a taxable arrangement and should be paid via Payroll.
Payments to Volunteers in Clinical Trials and Research Studies including PPI
Special considerations exist for payments to volunteers, lay participants and participants in clinical trials or research studies e.g. volunteers participating in tests, trials, consultations or interviews.
Participants may be members of the general public or specific groups, the members of which meet criteria that fall within the area of study. Where participants are also members of staff of the University then HMRC regard their participation as distinct from their normal duties of employment – and, thereby, not treated as employment - as long as it occurs within their own time and they are under no obligation to take part.
Additionally, “lay” people or “users” in research may be invited to attend meetings to give their views to inform the research process and direction - patient and public involvement (PPI). They will often be former or current patients, representatives of particular groups (e.g. retired people), or representatives from charities.
Small payments, to cover out of pocket expenses and reasonable compensation for time spent, may be made to volunteers, lay participants and participants without deduction of tax or National Insurance. It is the responsibility of the recipient to declare this income to HMRC where required.
In practice, this means that the following procedures must be followed:
|Subject Payment Value
|Up to £50
||Payment may be made via Petty Cash, or a specific float, or vouchers may be issued, obtaining a signed receipt from the payee in all cases.
||Make payment via the Payment Request Form (xlsx) for a payment via Oracle Financials, including name, address and National Insurance number (optional) of the payee.
Where participants are involved in multiple studies, consideration should then be made whether this constitutes the provision of services to the University (see Paying an Individual - Payment for Services).
Additional resources: HMRC guidance EIM71105 – Research volunteers, lay participants and participants in clinical trials.