Volunteering and job opportunities for those affected by the coronavirus

Updated on 3 April 2020

At the current time, losing your job is, sadly, a reality for many people. However many sectors are taking on new staff and there are also lots of opportunities to volunteer for those who are out of work, or who are still in work but have some free time.

group of volunteers handing out food
(c) Shutterstock / LightField Studios

⚠️ We are working hard to ensure this guidance is up to date – however you should bear in mind that things may change on a daily basis as the Government respond to the ongoing situation.

Where can I find information about job opportunities?

There are many businesses that find themselves needing to increase their workforce as a result of the outbreak, such as in food logistics, preparation and retail.

Businesses are being encouraged by the government to post vacancies on the official job site Find a Job although a quick internet search should provide you with plenty of other options.

How do I complete the Starter Checklist?

When you start a new job and you do not have your form P45 from your previous job, your new employer should ask you to complete a Starter Checklist (this used to be known as form P46).

The checklist asks you for certain information to help your employer allocate an ‘emergency’ tax code and work out the tax due on your first payday. HMRC will process the information you have provided on the Starter Checklist and where necessary, revise your tax code.

The Starter Checklist requests information like:

  • Your National Insurance number (NINO);
  • whether you have been claiming Jobseeker's Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance;
  • whether you have got a second job;
  • whether you are paying off a student loan.

It is important that you complete the Starter Checklist or provide the relevant information your employer has asked you for, as soon as possible before your first payday, so your employer knows what tax code to use. If you do not provide this information, you could end up paying the wrong amount of tax.

It is also important that you complete the Starter Checklist correctly – one major cause of tax problems for those in employment, is the incorrect completion of the starter checklist – in particular picking the wrong employee statement (A, B or C). You can read more about this in our news piece 'Why completing a starter checklist CORRECTLY when starting a new job really does matter!'.

Ticking box A incorrectly can lead to you being given the benefit of the full tax free personal allowance to set against your employment earnings, which may mean that you have a tax underpayment at the end of the tax year. 

Give the completed checklist to your employer. Do not send the checklist to HMRC. Keep a copy of the checklist for your own records.

The checklist is available on GOV.UK.

Volunteering

As set out on the NHS England website, NHS England is looking for up to 250,000 volunteers to help up to 1.5 million people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions.

Members of the public can sign up quickly and easily at goodsamapp.org/NHS to become NHS Volunteer Responders, and can be called on to do simple but vital tasks such as:

  • delivering medicines from pharmacies;
  • driving patients to appointments;
  • bringing them home from hospital;
  • or making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home.

The NHS Volunteer Responders initiative is being run, overseen and managed by Royal Voluntary Service.

For volunteering opportunities in other parts of the UK, visit:

What if I am reimbursed my expenses – are there tax considerations?

Even if you are not paid for the actual work you do, you may be paid expenses to compensate you for some of the costs associated with volunteering. These can include things like:

  • travel expenses (including home to work base)
  • postage and telephone
  • protective clothing.

Broadly, if you are reimbursed any actual out-of-pocket expenses you have incurred then there will be no tax or National Insurance contributions (NIC) to deal with for either you or the charity paying you. However, if you are reimbursed expenses above the amount actually incurred or are given any other payment, then there may be tax and NIC consequences to think about.

There are examples on GOV.UK which highlight some of the tax issues which can arise when you are volunteering.

There are statutory rates of mileage reimbursement that can be paid if you have used your own car for volunteering. Provided there is no profit element (i.e. no excess is paid), they are not subject to tax or NIC.  

From 2011-12 First 10,000 business miles in the tax year Each business mile over 10,000 in the tax year
Cars and vans 45p 25p
Motorcycles 24p 24p
Bicycles 20p 20p

 


Example

Haled collects someone from hospital and drives them home – 5 miles there and 5 miles back – in his own car. He can be reimbursed £4.50 without any tax or NIC implications (45p x 10 miles)

The mileage rate covers the costs of running and maintaining the vehicle, such as fuel, oil, servicing, repairs, insurance, vehicle excise duty and MOT. The rate also covers depreciation of the vehicle.


What if I want to waive my expenses?

It is often the case that volunteers offered reimbursement of expenses from a charity will waive those expenses or wish to gift them back to the charity (in this case, the Royal Voluntary Service). The most tax-efficient way of doing this is for the volunteer to receive the expense payment in question and then to gift it back to the charity as a Gift Aid donation

For Gift Aid to apply there must be an actual payment donated to the charity; a waiver of expenses does not involve a payment and so would not count. HMRC recommend that for audit purposes at least one of the payments is made by cheque and clearly and properly recorded. You can find more information on GOV.UK.

It is important to note that to use the Gift Aid scheme, the volunteers must have paid enough tax in the year to cover the tax on the gift. If they have not, HMRC may decide to recover the tax from the volunteer if the charity reclaims tax that has not been paid. The volunteer may therefore find themselves faced with a tax bill as a reward for their generosity!

Can I volunteer if I am on benefits?

You will want to ensure that any voluntary work you carry out does not end up restricting any benefits that would otherwise be paid to you, or at least understand the potential consequences.

The rule of thumb is that volunteering will not affect your entitlement to welfare benefits or tax credits as long as you are only receiving the reimbursement of genuine out of pocket expenses. In any other event, benefits or tax credits could be affected and as this is your responsibility you may want to talk to your benefits office or HMRC to find out exactly what impact volunteering will have – each individual case will be different. 

Further information is available on GOV.UK

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