Ask HR: Staff volunteering at religious-based event. Is that ok?

Dear HR,

We own a retail shop, and once a month my family participates in a volunteer day for needy families in the community. We want to ensure it will not be an issue if our employees also participate by volunteering with us. It is not mandatory that the employees participate and it’s during a time when our shop is closed. It is a Christian-based event, but we don’t talk about religion, we just help needy families. However both of our employees have expressed that they would like to volunteer. Please advise as we are also new employers and don’t want to break any rules.


HR answer:

Yes, your employees appear to meet BOLI’s criteria to qualify as volunteers for your needy family day. Here are the legal criteria you need to know:

  • The work must be at the employee´s initiative.
  • The work must be outside normal or regular work hours.
  • The employee must be performing a religious, charitable or other community service without contemplation of payment.
  • The employee must be performing a task outside of the regular job functions performed for the same employer.