In an employment contract, the employee agrees, for a definite or indefinite period of time, to work for an employer in return for remuneration. The salary is an essential element of the employment contract. The work performed must always be remunerated.
On the other hand, it is common for people to provide services free of charge to non-profit associations, humanitarian organizations, charities or for relatives. In such cases, there is no employment contract, and the volunteer is not entitled to any remuneration. This is the case even if the volunteer has a professional activity and works in the same environment as employees.
However, one must be careful about the risk of abuse. An employer who does not have the budget for a specific position could be tempted to resort to volunteer work to save on salaries. In the event of a dispute, a judge may consider this to be a disguised employment contract and grant the employee salary and leave protection.
If the parties wish to reach an agreement on volunteering, it is highly recommended to draw up a written agreement. This agreement will specify the terms and conditions of the volunteering. Depending on the personal situation of the volunteer, the volunteer will have to insure himself/herself against accidents.
An internship is not a volunteer activity. Under certain circumstances and depending on the duration, it must be paid.