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Volunteering while unemployed

According to the Department of Social Protection you may volunteer if you are receiving the following payments. Please read this document carefully. Job-seekers allowance A person may engage in voluntary work and continue to be entitled to JA provided s/he continues to satisfy the conditions of being available for and genuinely seeking work.


A number of factors are taken into account by a Deciding Officer in determining whether the work involved is voluntary and whether a person would continue to satisfy the conditions for the receipt of JA, and these include:

  • the aims and standing of the voluntary organisation,
  • the nature of the work involved, the weekly number of hours worked.
  • The employment must be truly voluntary and the Deciding Officer must be satisfied that the unemployed person is not engaging in work that would normally warrant liability for the payment of PRSI

The Voluntary Work Option embraces a wide variety of voluntary activities, e.g. assisting the elderly, the sick or the handicapped in their homes or in institutions or assisting voluntary bodies such as youth clubs and resident associations. A person who wishes to apply for payment under the Voluntary Work Option must complete an application form (VW1), which is available from Social Protection Local Offices.

The application form VW1 should be submitted to the relevant Local Office for decision before s/he commences the voluntary work. Job-seekers benefit According to the Department of Social Protection a person may engage in voluntary work and continue to be entitled to JB provided s/he continues to satisfy the conditions of being available for and genuinely seeking work. A number of factors are taken into account by a Deciding Officer in determining whether the work involved is voluntary and whether a person would continue to satisfy the conditions for the receipt of JB, and these include: the aims and standing of the voluntary organisation, the nature of the work involved, the weekly number of hours worked.

You must first get permission from the Department of Social Protection before doing work of any kind. Contact 1890 66 22 44 or your local office. All information in this fact-sheet is taken from the Department of Social Protection web site.