Social Welfare and Volunteering

Volunteering when in receipt of a Social Payment

Individuals who are in receipt of Social Welfare can volunteer without losing their Unemployment payments.

Note: – “you must be actively seeking work and available to take up employment if such an opportunity comes to you”. Please note that full time volunteering may deem you unavailable for work and thus may affect your entitlements.  Organisations or groups who are seeking to involve volunteers who are in receipt of a Social Welfare Payment must have approval from the volunteers’ local office of the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs. Complete the application form (VW1) and submit it to the local Social Welfare Office for approval.  

VW1 Form can be obtained from the local of offices of Social Protection or Click Here to Download Form


Information From the Department of Social Protection


A jobseeker who engages in voluntary work within the State may continue to be entitled to a jobseekers payment provided that, in engaging in the voluntary work, they continue to satisfy the statutory conditions of being available for and genuinely seeking work. Examples of voluntary work in which jobseekers may engage include: Helping the sick, elderly or persons with a disability, assisting youth clubs, church groups, sports groups, cultural organisations, local resident associations. The groups involved may be nationally organised groups or local voluntary or community groups

Aims of the Voluntary Work Option

The aim of the 'Voluntary Work Option' is twofold, namely – to encourage voluntary organisations to involve jobseekers to the greatest extent possible in their existing activities by creating new opportunities for voluntary work and to inform jobseekers of their freedom to involve themselves in voluntary work and to encourage them to do so


While it is not possible to lay down hard and fast rules as to what constitutes voluntary work the position should be clear in most cases. Factors to be taken into account will include: The type of work involved, amount of any payment received by way of 'out-of-pocket expenses', the aims and standing of the voluntary body, and the weekly hours worked/volunteered. 

The voluntary work would normally involve only a few hours a day or a few days a week but full-time involvement in voluntary activities would not necessarily be ruled out.  However, there should be no implication of Job Replacement or Cheap Labour.  Any payment for the voluntary work should generally be limited to 'out-of-pocket expenses' such as travelling expenses or meal allowances

How to Apply

The jobseeker or the voluntary organisation/group involved should request an application form VW 1 from their Local Social Protection Office

Where to Apply

The completed application form should be sent to the local Social Protection Office and a Deciding Officer will determine whether the customer may take up the work in question without affecting entitlement to the jobseekers payment. 

Decisions in relation to Voluntary Work

In considering an application the Deciding Officer will determine whether the work concerned is voluntary within the meaning of the scheme and whether the Jobseeker would continue to satisfy the statutory conditions for receiving the Jobseekers Payment. The Deciding Officer will need to be satisfied that the jobseeker is available to take up employment, if offered it, and that they are making genuine efforts to find work.


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