The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Volunteers

Reference Number: MTAS-1208
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: May 09, 2016
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A bona fide volunteer is defined as an individual who performs hours of service for a public agency for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons. Moreover, a volunteer performs these services without promise, expectation, or receipt of compensation for services rendered. The overtime provisions of the FLSA prohibit an employee from volunteering to perform duties that are part of the employee’s job. The prohibition also covers charitable work when the employer controls the activity. For instance, a police department cannot compel a police officer to perform unrelated work, such as running a booth at a fair.

An employee can volunteer to perform unrelated work when the work is not a condition of employment in employee’s primary job. Examples of volunteer work might include:

  • Coaching a city-sponsored youth athletic team;
  • Serving as a volunteer firefighter when the two departments are distinctly separate and not part of a joint public safety department; or
  • Serving as a member of a local board or committee.

29 C.F.R. § 553.103.

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