An Assessment of the Legal Framework for Volunteerism in Ukraine

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An Assessment  of the  Legal  Framework  for  
Volunteerism  in  Ukraine 

May  2008  


This assessment of the Ukrainian legislation pertaining to volunteer activities, as of February
2008 1, is divided into six sections:

1. Definitions of volunteer activities;
2. Legislative regulation of volunteer activities;
3. Reimbursement of expenses an d taxation of volunteer activities;
4. Social guarantees and social security of volunteers;
5. International volunteer activities; and
6. State policy for promoting volunteer activities.

Each section includes brief analytical conclusions. A final section includes recommendations for
introducing corresponding amendments to existing Ukrainian legislation affecting volunteerism .

This assessment does not review legal relationships emerging within the framework of providing
free public benefit services. In particular, this assessment does not consider new laws regarding
alternative (non-military) options for fulfilling servi ce requirements, volunteer fire marshal teams,
emergency and rescue services, public militia formations supporting public order, volunteer formations
assisting border guards in securing the state frontiers, civil defense groups, etc. Moreover, we do not
review categories of uncompensated public services wh ich have been excluded from the international
treaties banning forced labor. These include, in par ticular, public works carried out in accordance with
judicial decisions in administrative and criminal cases, services performed under conditions of states of
emergency, including those aimed at overcoming the consequences of natural calamities and man-caused
catastrophes. We do not bundle these unpaid public wo rks together with volunteer activities, understood
as exclusively volunteer service, beca use such association could reinforce traditionally skeptical attitudes
toward public works in post-communist countries.
1 This Assessment was made possible through support provided by a cooperative agreement between the Institute for Sustainable
Communities of Montpelier, Vermont U.S.A. and the USAID. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors(s) and do
not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute for Sustainable Communities or the USAID .

1. Definitions of volunteer activities contained in Ukrainian legislation

Despite numerous declarations of various Ukra inian public authorities recognizing the importance
of volunteer activities and the need to create a legal foundation for government support of the volunteer
movement, the status of volunteers is legislatively defined only in a small number of very specific fields.
Special laws on social work and social services establish that such terms as “volunteer” and “volunteer
activities” refer to physical persons carrying out uncompensated, not- for-profit activities aimed at
providing a public good.

A number of essential drawbacks preclude recogni zing these laws as a legal foundation for
volunteer activities as a whole. First of all, these prov isions may not be applied by default to all other
types of volunteer activities. The standards, contained in such special laws are inconsistent with the
Ukrainian legislation on labor and ta xation. Moreover, a number of important legal issues pertaining to
volunteer activities are not addressed by these laws at all.

At the same time, decrees of the Cabinet of Mini sters regulating volunteer activities in the fields
of social work and social services 3 contain an important clarification, prescribing that volunteers and
volunteer organizations in those fields may carry out their activities exclusively on request of
government-run social service agencies, and only on th e basis of agreements with the aforementioned
agencies for a period of not less than three months.

The Law “On Charity and Charitable Organizati ons” (hereinafter, the “Law on Charity”) could
have laid a foundation for regulating the volunteer sector ; unfortunately, as it is currently written it is far
too general. Among various forms of charitable activities, the only one that has been singled out is
provision of volunteer and uncompensated assistance to beneficiaries by way of directly donating one’s
labor or providing services.
4 Nevertheless, the Law on Charity does not specify that any donors
providing this type of assistance shall be recognize d as volunteers, nor does it provide definitions of
volunteer activities. For instance, the Law on Charity recognizes providing charitable assistance in the
form of one-time assistance, as well as services provi ded by people working in a related field, or by
representatives of certain professions. In terms of le gal professionals, it should also be mentioned that
Ukraine has not adopted a law on legal assistance, and the law on legal defense does not regulate
provision of pro bono legal services. Moreover, th e Law recognizes that licensing and certification of
charitable activities are necessary in those cases stipulated by other laws, which means that the Law does
not provide any independent regulation of the field of volunteer activities per se.

Aside from the fields of social work and social services, and this reference in the Law on Charity,
the definition of voluntary activities in other fields is either not provided at all, or is deeply controversial.
Certain types of volunteer activities mentioned in specific laws may be understood as volunteering only
by analogy, or as a result of applying an interpretati on of the Law on Charity. Volunteer work performed
by members of public associations for the disabled, efforts aimed at protecting nature and restoring
natural resources, preserving and improving the natura l environment, and improving the quality of life in
towns and villages, are all addressed by special laws , which, nevertheless, do not regulate those voluntary

2 The Law of Ukraine № 966 “On Social Services” of 06/19/03 (Art. 1); the Law of Ukraine № 2558 “On Social Work with
Children and Young People” of 06/21/01 (Art. 1).
3 The Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine № 1895 “On Voluntary Activities in the Field of Social Service Provision”
of 12/10/03.
4 The Law of Ukraine № 531 “On Charity and Charitable Organizations” of 09/17/97 (Art. 16).

Similarly, university and high school students’ self-governance in their respective educational
establishments is regulated by laws on various types of education, and this type of engagement may be
regarded as volunteer activities, different from both students’ social work and from participation in
students’ volunteer labor teams.

The Law “On the Red Cross of Ukraine” cont ains specific standards regarding volunteer
emergency services, participation in which does not imply obtaining any profit or other benefit.
On the other hand, volunteer donations of human blood, body parts or organs for transplantation and
other biological components pursuant to the legislation of Ukraine on protection of health may not be
regarded volunteer activities because they do not im ply provision of services. The use of “volunteer
labor” is treated as a priority approach in providing social services to disabled people;
6 meanwhile, in the
field of protecting the rights of retirees and the disabled, volunteers have only been granted the status of
“members of mutual assistance groups.”
Most controversial is the regulation of volunteering in the field of sports, where volunteers are defined as
“workers,” “volunteer assistants,” and “service persons ,” equated in status with ticket collectors and

In general, this unconsolidated regulation of volunteer activitie s in national legislation cannot
satisfy either theory or legal drafting. It does not provide legal definitions that would serve the practical
needs of volunteers in their interactions with public authorities, non-government organizations (NGOs) or
other beneficiaries or volunteers.

Meanwhile, international covenants to which Uk raine is a party do not contain any standards
pertaining to volunteers and volunteer service. The European Social Charter, conventions on the status of
migrant workers, and similar multilateral agreements ratified by Ukraine do not regulate the status of
volunteers or volunteer activities separately from the status of hired employees. Several bilateral
agreements on the prevention of double taxation and special intergovernmental agreements regarding
technical assistance programs may be viewed as the only exceptions.
8 Unfortunately, these instruments
offer very limited applications related to volunteerism.

Key findings:

1) The national legislation of Ukraine lacks a sp ecial law or equally valid legal act that would
provide general legal definitions of volunteers and volunteer activities.
2) Special laws regulate the status of volunteers only to a certain extent, while numerous
inconsistencies in standards and unsubstantiated limitations rule out the application of those few
laws to volunteer activities in other fields.
3) Current Ukrainian legislation does not offe r any practical measures that would provide for
governmental support of volunteer activities.
5 The Decree of the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports № 742, “On the National Program of Supporting Young People, 2004-
2008” of 11/18/03.
6 The President’s Decree # 673 “On the Strategy of Overcoming Poverty” of 08/15/01. 7 The Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine #823 “On Ad opting the Procedure for Securing Public Order during Soccer
Games” of 06/29/04.
8 Agreement between the Government of Ukraine and the Government of United Arab Emirates on Prevention of Double
Taxation and Evading Taxes on Profits and Capital (Art. 20), ratified by the Law of Ukraine #1013 of 06/19/03); Agreement
between Ukraine and the Federal Republic of Germany on Pr evention of Double Taxation of Profit and Property (Art. 20),
ratified by the Law of Ukraine #449 of 11/22/1995; Agreement between the Government of Ukraine and the Government of
Japan on Cooperation and Technical Assistance, ratified by the Law of Ukraine #1969 of 07/01/04.

2. The legislative regulation of volunteer activities

In the absence of any special legislative act regulating volunteer activities in Ukraine, the
application of provisions of civil, labor, commercial, or administrative law depends, as a rule, on the
discretionary authority vested in various government agencies. This analysis focuses on major issues
arising from this legal uncertainty in regard to volunteer activities.

2.1. Presumption of legal labor relations

In regard to services provided within the fram ework of volunteer activities, unless a law or a
written contract prescribes otherwise, legislatio n and judicial practice in Ukraine recognize the
presumption of a legal labor relationship in the form of an employment contract for an unlimited period
of time.

Since the proclamation of independence of Ukrain e in 1991, the country’s labor legislation has
still not been subject to any serious restructur ing. The “permission to perform certain work” 9 is still
regarded as the basis for legal relations in the field of employment, and, consequently, for the right of
physical persons to claim social guarantees including monetary compensation in an amount which is not
lower than the minimum allowable wage. This means that an entity may hire a person without executing
any documentation pertaining to the fact of employment. This standard of the labor law has been
repeatedly referred to in court cases, including clai ms against NGOs. Additionally, any employee has the
right to insist on signing a labor contract. This is why a number of entities, trying to minimize their risks,
conclude written agreements for performing certain jobs “on voluntary basis,” or enter into similar
arrangements that document a volunteer’s pledge not to claim any compensation for work performed.

Significantly, this practice does not protect the rights of organizations, in particular, vis-à-vis the
following peculiar features of the labor legislation in Ukraine:

1) In relation to any labor activities, there exists a presumption of mandatory payment in an amount
that is not lower than the minimum wage allowed by the law; 10
2) There is no statute of limitations in regard to claims demanding compensation for work
performed, and this type of court claim is not subject to the state filing duty; 11 and
3) Unless a law or a contract stipulates otherwise, a le gal entity can be held liable, to the full extent
of its assets, for any harm incurred by physical persons while carrying out their work in
compliance with their scope of responsibilities; meanwhile, the liability of a physical person
within the framework of labor relations, as a rule, is capped at a certain percentage of his or her

It deems impossible to accept the practice of concluding temporary or fixed-time labor contracts,
which is done for the purpose of minimizing remunerati on of labor, as even one-time renewal of a fixed-
time labor contract (for instance, a renewal resulting from the entity’s acquiring some external financing
for a specific project) may be recognized as a conclu sion of an employment contract for an unlimited
period of time.

9 Code of the Ukrainian Labor Laws № 322 of 12/10/71 (Art. 24). 10 Code of the Ukrainian Labor Laws № 322 of 12/10/71 (Art. 2). 11 Code of the Ukrainian Labor Laws № 322 of 12/10/71 (Art. 233); Decree of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers #7-93 “On the
State Duty” of 01/21/93 (Art. 4).
12 Code of the Ukrainian Labor Laws № 322 of 12/10/71 (Art. 39-1).

The opportunity for employees to use unpaid leave for volunteer activities is limited to 15
calendar days within one calendar year. 13 Neither the Law “On Paid Leave” nor the Code of Labor Laws
stipulates any special school vacations that could be used for volunteer activities. With the exception of
special agreements with accredited institutions of higher learning regarding student internships during
school breaks, entering into agreements with volunteers, defined as “interns” or “trial period employees,”
seems to do little to diminish a hiring entity’s risks. The legal status of these categories of employees
according to Ukrainian legislation is only different from the status of regular employees by virtue of a
simplified procedure for firings. Meanwhile, a “trial period” is limited to three months,
14 which makes it
next to impossible to use this legislation to regulate any long-term volunteer activities.

In general, any volunteer possessing documented or other admissible evidence supporting the fact
that he or she was allowed to perform certain work at a specific workplace may file a claim against an
NGO or any other entity in a court of law demanding the following:

1) Payment of the minimum wage for the period (with no statute of limitations, covering the time
period until the individual held new full-time employment); and
2) Compensation for material and non-material (moral) damages incurred as a result of the former
employer’s failure to compensate the claimant’s labor, provided the state filing duty has been
duly paid.

Moreover, in the event that a court should decide th at an entity which used the services of a volunteer
violated labor laws, the entity will face penalties fo r failing to pay the compensation and for firing the
individual according to a procedure inconsistent w ith existing legislation. Based on the established
minimum wage of 515 hryvnias (around US$100 as of February 2008), the penalties that could be
assessed constitute a risk factor likely to be deemed unacceptable to most Ukrainian NGOs. Should a
court decide that a particular vol unteer should be treated as a hired employee, total penalties and litigation
expenses are likely to exceed US$1,500. Considering that in 2005, 60% of all Ukrainian NGOs declared
annual revenues of under US$10,000,
16 these potential costs raise very real risks of financial insolvency,
especially if an entity is mandated to satisfy several claims. On the other hand, enforcement of a court
decision against an NGO may only be feasible in the case of entities possessing adequate property or
financial resources. Consequently, organizations which have the greatest potential for attracting and
supporting volunteers turn out to be the most vulnerable to legal disputes based on the presumption of
employer-employee relations.

2.2. Legal issues related to underage volunteers

Legal uncertainty and related risks seem to be especially serious in the case of volunteers under
18 years of age. First of all, “permission to perform work” without entering into a contractual
arrangement with a minor may well be interpreted as use of child labor, which is banned by the law.
Sanctions for this type of violation are described below. Moreover, labor rela tions with minors may only
be recognized as legitimate if ce rtain conditions are met: mandatory conclusion of a written contract;
written consent of a parent or a legal guardian (if a minor is under 16 years of age); limited working
hours; a special procedure for firing, etc. Additionally, when a working relationship requires a person
under 16 to move away from his or her place of perm anent residence, it is mandatory to obtain the
parents’ or legal guardians’ special consent.
13 The Law of Ukraine # 504 “On Paid Leave” of 11/19/96 (Art. 25). 14 Code of the Ukrainian Labor Laws № 322 of 12/10/71 (Art. 27). 15 Code of the Ukrainian Labor Laws № 322 of 12/10/71 (Art. 237-1). 16 “The state and dynamics of Ukrainian NGO devel opment – 2002-2006,” Counterpart Center, Kiev: 2006. 17 The Law of Ukraine № 2402 “On Protection of Childhood” of 04/26/01 (A rt. 21); Code of the Ukrainian Labor Laws № 322 of
12/10/71 (Arts. 187-200).

It should be noted that some voluntary activities of minors are specifically regulated by provisions
of the Special Law on Youth and Children’s Public A ssociations. The Law “On the National Program of
Supporting Young People 2004-2008” does not seem to be too consistent itself either. Volunteer labor
groups of college students and other youths created within the framework of this legislation do not
possess the status of a legal entity but they are, neve rtheless, mandated to pay salaries to team members,
conclude employment contracts on the basis of provi sions regulating work conditions of persons under 18
years of age, and comply with other requirements of the employment-related legislation.
18 Meanwhile,
the above mentioned Decree of the Ukrainian Cabine t of Ministers establishes that relations between a
group’s founders (including NGOs), its members and customers shall be governed by civil law
agreements, which only adds to the general legal uncertainty.

2.3. Civil legal relations

Unlike the legislation of most European countries, the Civil Code of Ukraine does not contain any
special definitions of “jobs” or “services,” thus e nhancing the presumption of employment-related legal
relations in the field of voluntary activities. At the same time, civil law provisions may establish adequate
legal relations regulating volunteer activities based on a physical persons’ refusal to claim their
compensation stipulated by law or contract. Article 3 12 of the new Civil Code, effective in January 2004,
bans forced labor and guarantees phy sical persons freedom to choose a profession and change their main
occupation, provided this freedom is not limited by law or court decision. Articles 901-907 of the Code
regulate provision of services.
In particular, uncompensated service provision is allowed on the basis of reimbursement by the
customer of all actual expenses incurred by the s ervice provider while performing jobs within the
framework of an agreement.
19 It must be noted that this provision is drastically different from the existing
standards contained in the legislation regulating employment and social services.

The Form of an Agreement. A verbal agreement for the provi sion of uncompensated services
may not be contested in the event that payment fo r the services, were it due, would not exceed ten
minimum allowable non-taxable salaries. As of February 2008, such sum constituted 170 hryvnias or
US$35, which is deemed equivalent to being engaged 12 hours per week at the minimum allowable rate.
Additionally, this provision allows for entering into verbal agreements on short-term volunteer activities
with persons of 14-18 years of age. In cases where the value of an agreement exceeds the aforementioned
minimum, a written contract is mandatory. Agreemen ts for the provision of uncompensated services are
not subject to mandatory notarization and/or state re gistration for the purpose of confirming their validity.
With the consent of both parties, legalization of such agreements by a notary public may be executed at
any time.

Special conditions, including the time period of service provision and protection of confidential
information, are regulated by an agreement between a volunteer and an entity or other beneficiary, unless
legislation stipulates otherwise. The same is applicab le to the grounds for (and procedure of) termination
of an agreement; for instance, a unilateral cancell ation of an agreement for uncompensated service
provision is allowed by law. Additionally, civil legal ag reements can include references to standard terms
of agreements and customary conditions of business in tercourse, or incorporate standardized contractual

18 Decree of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers № 899 “On Adoption of Standard Regulati ons regarding Youth Labor Teams” of
01/16/03 (Art. 904).
19 Civil Code of Ukraine # 435 of 01/16/03 (Art. 904). 20 Civil Code of Ukraine № 435 of 01/16/03 (Arts. 630, 634).

Material liability stipulated by an agreement. Liability of a volunteer, as well as of any other
person providing services free of charge, is limited to the amount of two minimum non-taxable salaries
for an individual (34 hryvnia or US$7), unless anothe r amount is prescribed by a relevant agreement.
An agreement may stipulate a volunteer’s liability to a third party, or an entity’s liability vis-à-vis
volunteers; it may also specify cases which may require mandatory volunteer insurance against legal
liability, or that mandate insuring property used in th e course of volunteer activities, etc. Material liability
of volunteers, organizations, beneficiaries and third parties for any damages, as well as non-contractual
liabilities, are regulated in a sufficiently detailed manner by Articles 1161-1211 of the Civil Code of

An important peculiar feature of agreements for service provision is that, despite the presumption
that a volunteer provides services personally, a volunteer, while retaining potential liability to a customer,
may delegate the provision of services to anot her party by so specifying in an agreement.

Under civil law, a more traditional approach would involve transfer, per consent of the
contracting parties, of civil and legal contractual agr eements to a third party (Art. 636 Civil Code). In the
case of volunteers’ services, we frequently encounter uncertainty when defining whether the beneficiaries
of such services are physical persons in general, or a certain “recipient organization” (a school, hospital,
social institution, local body of self-governance, etc.), to which the physical persons belong.

Such transfers of agreements are especially relevant in circumstances when volunteers participate
in activities in the territory of other countries they ar e similarly relevant to the work of some public and
communal institutions which require legal agreements for international travel of volunteers and/or their
physical presence at certain sites during business hours and, especially, off-duty hours.

2.4. Legislative regulation of sanctions in the field of volunteer activities

In Ukraine, the essence of a violation, as we ll as the procedure for applying sanctions by
government agencies, is regulated by various special st atutes. In particular, the Code of Administrative
Violations of 1984 stipulates grounds for administrative liability in the field of volunteer activities.
Sanctions against an organization’s executives would most probably be imposed for the following

1) violation of the legislation on employment and labor safety (Art. 41 Code of Administrative
Violations), including a failure to pay or late payment of salaries; and violation of sanitary and
hygiene standards and regulations (Art. 42);
2) violation of the rules of protection and use of historic and cultural sites (Art. 92);
3) illegal distribution or purchase of gas and other fuels and lubricants (Art. 161);
4) failure to submit or late submission of docum entation confirming the execution of mandatory
payments, such as taxes, duties, etc. (Art. 163-2); violation of the procedure for deducting
individual income tax from salaries and transferring it to the Treasury (Art. 163-4); and
5) violation of the procedure for carrying out economic activities (Art. 164), including being
engaged in such activities without acquiring a proper license or state registration.

This last vulnerability may also be applicable to volunteers engaged in providing uncompensated
professional social services.

21 Civil Code of Ukraine № 435 of 01/16/03 (Art. 906). 22 Civil Code of Ukraine № 435 of 01/16/03 (Arts. 618, 902).

Any criminal liability is regulated exclusively by the Criminal Code of Law (Art. 3 of the
Ukrainian Criminal Code of 2001). In the field of volunteer activities, criminal liability may be imposed
based on the following provisions of the Criminal Code:

1) violations related to movement and participation of volunteers, especially minors: improper
fulfillment of responsibilities in regard to the prot ection of the lives and health of children (Art.
137); exploitation of minors under the minimum lega l age of employment (Art. 150); trafficking
in humans or other legal agreements pertaining to human beings (trafficking and movement of
individuals for the purpose of forced labor, including forced provision of services) (Art. 149 );
illegal trafficking of individuals across the national frontier of Ukraine (Art. 332, which includes
providing such individuals with advice and instructions, as well as assistance in overcoming
obstacles arising from the trafficking);
2) infringement on the principle of equality of rights of individuals on the basis of their race,
ethnicity or religious affiliation (Art. 161);
3) violations pertaining to compensation for and saf ety of labor: gross violation of the employment
legislation (Art. 172); gross violation of an empl oyment contract (Art. 173, i.e., coercion into
performing jobs not specified by an employment contract); deliberate failure to pay salary for
over one month (Art. 175);
4) violation of requirements contained in the labor safety legislation (Art. 271); violation of labor
safety regulations when carrying out hazardous j obs (Art. 272); violation of traffic safety
regulations and rules of operating vehicles (Art. 286);
5) violations related to the procedure of carrying out volunteer activities: illegal or unlicensed
healthcare practice (Art. 138); enga gement in illegal medical, biological, psychological and other
experimental activities involving humans (Art. 142);
6) violations related to taxation and other mandatory payments: deliberate larger-scale tax evasion
(exceeding 1,000 minimum non-taxable salaries) (Art. 212); deliberate evasion of mandatory
payments to the state social security system (Art. 212-1); and
7) violations related to volunteer activities carried out on the sites of government agencies: seizure
of public and government buildings for the purpose of their illegal use or disruption of the
corresponding agencies’ activities (Art. 341); forcible assertion of authority (Art. 356); illegal
tampering with the systems of automated data processing and protection of information (Arts.
361-363); abuse of power (Art. 364); negligence at work (Art. 367).

Ukraine has not adopted a Tax Code, and the pr ocedure for determining the financial liability of
tax-payers vis- à -vis the State Budget is regulated by a special law, which prescribes sizeable fines (5%
to 30%) for a failure to pay taxes or execute other mandatory payments on time or in full.

Key findings:

1) In the absence of a written contract between a pub lic or private entity and a volunteer, legislation
and judicial practice tend to treat long-term volunteer activities as a violation of the labor
legislation; as a rule, organizations accept services of volunteers in violation of law.
2) Long-term volunteer activities are not recognized or regulated by legislation as a type of activity
that is separate from legal relations regulati ng employment, with the exception of activities
related to the social provision of services.
3) Ukrainian legislation establishes additional lim itations on volunteer activities for minors under
the presumption of legal labor relations.
23 The Law of Ukraine #2181 “On the Procedure of Mandatory Pa yments to the Budget and the State Funds-in-Trust” of
12/21/2000 (Article 17).

4) The Civil Code of Ukraine a llows for entering into contractual relations for providing
uncompensated services, including provision of services benefiting a third party, provided the
volunteer is reimbursed for his or her actual expenses.
5) Essential provisions of civil legal agreements be tween an entity and a volunteer may also be
regulated by individual contracts or standard agreements.
6) Civil and legal verbal agreements with volunt eers may only be used for short-term volunteer
activities or in the case of an absence of any considerable actual expenses.
7) Sanctions for most violations in the field of volunteer activities, as a rule, do not involve
incarceration, but the large values of fines imposed on organizations’ executives and the
organizations themselves are considerable e nough to potentially paralyze an NGO’s activities.

3. Reimbursement of expenses and taxation of volunteer activities

Many NGOs and other beneficiaries in Ukraine do not reimburse volunteers for their expenses
simply because they cannot afford to cover these expenses in full or even in part. This situation does not
run counter to the existing laws on social services a nd charitable activities, and, as a rule does not lead
to disputes with volunteers, but it obviously impe des the success of outreach to and involvement of
volunteers. Even in those cases when organizations are capable of paying reimbursements, they rarely
take advantage of civil legal agreements with vo lunteers that would enable the NGO to reimburse
volunteers for their tax-exe mpt expenses pursuant to the legal provisions mentioned in Section 2.3.

3.1. Absence of special standards in the legislation regarding reimbursement for volunteers’

Article 7 of the Law of Ukraine “On Social Serv ices” stipulates that physical persons providing
social services are eligible for reimbursement of expenses in the amount and in compliance with the
procedure established by the Cabinet of Ministers. In reality, as of February 2008, the aforementioned
procedure had not been established. Moreover, the comp ensation payments, prescribed by the legislation,
may be fundamentally inconsistent with the sums to be reimbursed to a volunteer for his or her actual

3.2. Personal Income Tax

In 2007, Ukraine introduced a unified rate of personal income tax in the amount of 15%; 24 lower
tax rates for certain types of income are also stipulated, as well as certain tax privileges and credits.
Still, the administrative practice of the Ukrainian Revenue Service is such that sums payable as
reimbursement may only be free from taxation if th ey are directly specified as such by the labor
legislation or a civil legal agreement.
In particular, the amount of non-taxable income is ca pped at 1,4 of the amount of the minimum allowable
wage (or about US$170). 25 In the event that a volunteer is not employed by an organization and within
one calendar year the volunteer is reimbursed for expenses in cash or in kind in an amount that exceeds
the aforementioned cap, the excess compensation is subject to taxation. Reimbursement of expenses is
even more complicated due to an additional limit applied to taxing in-kind income (accommodations,
meals, etc.). For example, in the event that a volunteer’s lodging expenses amounting to $500 are covered
by an organization, the taxable amount will constitu te 117% (about US$590) of the sum exceeding the
aforementioned US$170. As a result, the overall reimbur sement of the volunteer’s accommodations to be
paid by the organization will include an additional tax amount of $65 if the volunteer does not have any
other sources of income, or $85 if he or she has a taxable income besides the reimbursement for expenses
incurred when carrying out volunteer activities.

The Ukrainian tax legislation does not contai n any provisions regarding “pocket money” or
similar sums provided for volunteers’ expenses; which do not require that volunteers submit supporting
documentation or receipts. Only in the case of existing legal employment relations between the volunteer
and the organization is the volunteer’s per diem subject to any tax incentives. Such per diem amounts,
payable when the volunteer is away from home on a bu siness trip, are not taxable up to US$1,55 per day
within the territory of Ukraine, or up to US$55 within the territory of other countries.

24 The Law of Ukraine “On Personal Income Tax” № 889 оf 05/22/03 (Art. 7). 25 The Law of Ukraine “On Personal Income Tax” № 889 оf 05/22/03 (Arts. 4.3.5, 6.5, 9.7.3). 26 Decree № 663 of 04/23/99; Ordinance of the Ukrainian Ministry of Finance № 59 of 13.03.98.

Any per diem reimbursements exceeding the aforementioned amounts are taxed as personal
income tax at a regular rate. Moreover, these sums ma y not be deducted as the cost of doing business or
overhead, and may only be paid by organizations out of their net profits after tax. Reimbursement of
volunteers’ expenses incurred in their area of permanent residence may not be deducted from the
volunteer’s taxable income. These expenses (i.e., meal s) are referred to as “additional benefits” for
workers who are not engaged in the organization’s main activity, and as such, they are taxed as any other
income. It goes without saying that if volunteers ar e compensated for their expenses as employees, this
fact alone suggests that they may claim payment of the minimum allowable wage. Obviously, this
vulnerability is less than attractive to either public entities or NGOs, even those that actually possess the
capacity to reimburse volunteers for their expenses.

In those cases when a written civil agreement w ith a volunteer has been legally entered into by
the parties, the total reimbursement or advance paym ent towards expenses is non-taxable, so long as the
expenses are not “out of pocket” or per diem expe nses. These sums should be accounted for, irrespective
of the amount, in the event that a volunteer produces documentation confirming the expenses not later
than three days after expiration of the agreement.

The issues related to taxation also include th e absence of tax credit for in-kind services. An
individual filing tax returns with the internal revenue authorities may receive a tax credit for the value of
monetary donations to an NGO in the amount of 2% – 5% of the individual’s taxable revenues;
nevertheless, the amount of tax credit may not includ e the value of uncompensated services provided or
the work performed.
28 Additionally, the sum of an individual’s tax refund may not exceed the amount that
individual obtained during the year as a salary, which for practical purposes deprives unsalaried
volunteers the opportunity to receive a tax credit.

Legal entities are entitled to include in their gro ss expenses part of the compensation paid to
employees for their volunteer hours donated to public en tities or other non-profits. This tax credit, though,
may not be lower than 2% or higher than 5% of th e taxable revenue of the entity in question in the
previous fiscal year.

Key findings:

1) The Ukrainian legislation does not contain any special standards that regulate reimbursement of
volunteers’ expenses.
2) Reimbursement of expenses on the basis of employment contracts is exempt (up to a certain sum)
from personal income taxation; reimbursement fo r expenses incurred while fulfilling civil legal
agreements is not limited, provided the said expenses are confirmed by supporting
3) The value of work or services provided by volu nteers are not exempt from the personal income

4. Social guarantees and social security of volunteers

The Ukrainian legislation stipulates various so cial guarantees and types of mandatory social
security for volunteers in the event that their relati ons with recipient organizations are recognized as
employee-employer relationships. In the event that an organization enters into a civil legal agreement
with a volunteer, the volunteer’s participation in the system of mandatory social security is regulated in
27 The Law of Ukraine #889 “On Personal Income Tax” of 05/22/03 (Art. 9.10). 28 The Law of Ukraine #889 “On Personal Income Tax” of 05/22/03 (Art. 5.3). 29 The Law of Ukraine №334 “On Corporate Income Tax” of 12/28/94 (Art. 5.2.2).

accordance with the volunteer’s wishes and/or in compliance with a special agreement with the

4.1. Mandatory retirement plans for volunteers

Recognition of the fact of employment obligates an “employer-organization” to pay installments
to a mandatory state retirement plan for a volunteer in the amount of the minimum allowable mandatory
payment (in 2008, such payment could not be less th an 33.2% of the amount of the minimum allowable
wage), irrespective of the actual compensation for the donated labor.
30 Thus, taking into account a
mandatory payment of additional 2% of this sum, it seems that an organization might be deemed to be
required to pay around US$35 per volunteer to the mandatory state retirement plan, even though the
organization does not pay the volunteer a salary. Similar situations arise when an organization pays
compensation (not to be confused with reimbursement for expenses) on the basis of civil legal agreements
with physical persons who are not registered as private entrepreneurs.

Participation in a mandatory retirement plan is of considerable value to volunteers, especially to
those who do not have any permanent employment. It should be noted that within the framework of
personification of payment plans, the procedural re gulations on mandatory retirement plan settlements
and payments allow volunteers to make payments to the Pension Fund of Ukraine independently,
without the participation of their “employers.” Th e payment by volunteers of 33.2% of the minimum
allowable wage is equated to a full year employment , making the volunteer eligible for a state pension,
but this pension amount may be decreased proportionally to the actual retirement plan payment made by
the volunteer. A volunteer with an agreement to provi de uncompensated services to an organization may
specify in the agreement that the sums he or she pays into the mandatory pension plan are general
expenses to be reimbursed by the organization.

4.2. Mandatory social security

Payments to mandatory social security funds are lower than those to mandatory retirement plans,
but the actual amount tends to change each year. For instance, in 2008 the Law on the State Budget
stipulates payments amounting to 4% of general labor expenses to the social security funds. In addition to
payments executed by organizations viewed as employers, the Ukrainian legislation allows volunteers to
make payments on their own, as in the case of payments to the retirement plan.
32 Additionally, pursuant
to Law № 1382 “On the Freedom of Movement and Free Choice of Place of Residence” of 11/21/03, a
volunteer may submit an application for participation in the social security system not only at his or her
location of permanent residence, but also in an area where the volunteer resides temporarily for less than
six months in a given year. This standard is also a pplicable to volunteers aged 16-18, who are regarded as

Notwithstanding these provisions, the lack of a documented work record (a work record book)
may present a legal obstacle for individuals wishing to make social security payments on a voluntary
basis by submitting an application to a corresponding state fund. This is because submission of a copy of
the work record book is mandated under all of th e aforementioned regulations. To acquire such
documentation, an individual who has never held a re gular paid job or a foreign volunteer would need to
30 The Law of Ukraine № 1058 “On General Mandatory State Retirement Insurance” of 07/09/03 . 31 Ordinance of the Board of the State Pension Fund № 21-1 of 12/19/03; 32 Procedure for participation in the mandato ry state social security on volunteer basis in connection with temporary disability
and expenses related to births and de aths. (Ordinance of the Fund’s Board № 62 of 06/02/05); Regulations on the procedure for
payment, accounting and disbursement of insurance funds by th e Social Security Fund in connection with accidents at the
workplace and occupational di seases in Ukraine (Ordinance of the Fund’s Board № 36 of 07/12/07), and corresponding standard

enter into a labor contract with an NGO or a different type of entity. This requirement should therefore be
annulled, and, even more importantly, the administ rative practice that imposes such limitations should be

4.3. State social benefits

The Law of Ukraine “On Employment” stipulates that voluntary unemployment, or the absence of
any gainful activity, may not constitute grounds for liability within the framework of administrative or
criminal law. At the same time, persons engaged in continuous education or professional development are
classified as employed. This Law also establishes grounds for denying an individual the status of
“unemployed” or “seeking employment.” [ Irrespective of participation in the system of mandatory social
security, volunteers are entitled to state social bene fits in those cases stipulated by law: a one-time
allowance in the event of childbirt h; allowance to care for children under three years of age; disability,
etc. Still, according to the provisions creating a unified state registry of persons eligible for state social
benefits, in a number of cases the right of volunteer s to obtain public assistance may be suspended. In
particular, if a minor is engaged in long-term volunt eer activities, authorities may request proof that the
volunteer work engagement does not preclude this pe rson from obtaining a formal education; otherwise
this youth’s parents or legal guardians may lose their en titlement to state social benefits as a “family with

4.4. Volunteers’ insurance

The existing Ukrainian Law “On Insurance” pr ovides for the right of NGOs and volunteers to
freely enter into personal insurance contracts ( life, medical, disability, and retirement) as well as
insurance against civil and legal liability and insura nce of property (belonging to a volunteer, an NGO or
a third party) with licensed insura nce companies. With the consent of the insured volunteers, an NGO
may enter into agreements regarding insurance on the volunteers’ behalf (in favor of a third party) or
appoint the volunteers as beneficiaries in the event of an insured accident. As a rule, if an organization
does not pay a volunteer’s insurance, payment of insurance by the volunteer him or herself is considered a
recommended practice. Additionally, Article 7 of the Law mentions circumstances in which insurance is
mandatory, some of which may be applicable to volunteers (athletes, certain occupations, traffic
accidents, and professional liability in accordance with a list provided by the Cabinet of Ministers of
Ukraine). It should also be noted that the amounts of insurance payments, policies and the redemption
premium payable to an insurer (as long as the insurer is a Ukrainian resident) are not subject to taxation
and inclusion on volunteer’s annual tax returns, with the exception of long-term life insurance and private
retirement insurance.
33 Additionally, contributi ons of legal entities to cove r the expenses of voluntary
medical and retirement insurance of their employees and their family members are not considered labor
expenses and are not subject to deductions available for general mandatory social and retirement

Key findings:

1) In those cases where a volunteer has establishe d labor relations with an NGO, the volunteer can
independently make payments to the mandatory state retirement and social insurance funds, and,
subsequently, include these sums as reimbursable expenses pursuant to their agreements for
uncompensated service provision.
2) Voluntary retirement and social insurance contributions are also allowed in Ukraine.
33 The Law of Ukraine “On Personal Income Tax” № 889 of 05/22/03 (Art. 4.3.32). 34 Regulations regarding statistics of salaries and wages (Ordinance of the State Committee on Statistics № 5 of 01/13/05),
Section 3.5.

3) The right of volunteers to receive state social benefits may be limited.

5. International volunteer activities

As of February 2008, the Ukrainian national legi slation and international agreements to which
Ukraine is a party contain only a small number of sta ndards pertaining to the status of foreign volunteers
in Ukraine and the volunteer service of Ukrainians in the territory of other countries.

5.1. Activities of Ukrainian volunteers in other countries

Currently, volunteer activities of Ukrainian citiz ens in the territory of other countries are
regulated by either bilateral agreements or the ge neral standards of the legislation of each respective
recipient country. Ukraine has entered into bilateral agreements with some countries, for instance, with
Latvia, regarding free medical care for volunteers in extreme situations. When a volunteer leaves Ukraine
for a country which is not party to an agreement for free medical care, the volunteer is required to
purchase health insurance, which can be paid for inde pendently by the volunteer, a third party, or an

In the absence of any special legi slative standards or government entity that is authorized to
promote the service of Ukrainian volunteers in other countries, many volunteers face a number of legal
limitations of general character. In connection with the unified state registry of all persons receiving
social benefits and payments, Ukrainian volunteers leaving the county in order to carry out voluntary
service abroad lose their entitlement to those benefits for the term of their stay outside of Ukraine. In the
absence of an agreement with the recipient country re garding prevention of double taxation, a volunteer’s
income earned outside of Ukraine during a period of le ss than six months in a calendar year is subject to
personal income tax in Ukraine as revenue earned abroad.
35 Additionally, movement of underage
volunteers across national borders requires the notarized written permission of the minor’s parents or
legal guardians.

5.2. Foreign volunteers in Ukraine

As mentioned above, Ukraine has special agreem ents with several countries pertaining to the
status of foreign volunteers. In 2001, Ukraine marked the International Year of Volunteering under the
auspices of the United Nations, but Ukrainian regula tion of foreign volunteers’ activities still abounds in
legal uncertainties and does not always comply with the United Nations’ principles.

All countries bordering Ukraine are members of the Council of Europe (CE) and/or of the
European Union (EU), and it would seem natural that the provisions of the CE and the EU regarding
volunteer activities should be applicable to the majority of foreign volunteers. Nevertheless, Ukraine has
not joined various European conventions related to the status of volunteers, which makes it difficult to
recognize residents of the member-countries as volunteers. For instance, the Decree of the Cabinet of
Ministers of Ukraine #193-p of 03/31/03 stipulates adoption of a law on Ukraine’s ascension to the
European Convention on the Promotion of a Tran snational Long-Term Voluntary Service for Young
People, but the referenced draft law has never been considered. Ukrainian legislation does not reflect the
standards of the CE Directive of 2004/114 rega rding accepting citizens from third countries coming for
the purpose of education, student exchanges, no-co st professional training, or volunteer activities. The
Law on International Technical Assi stance has not been adopted either; consequently, participation of
volunteers in the developmental programs financed by international and transnati onal organizations is not
regulated by any special legal act.

35 The Law of Ukraine “On Personal Income Tax” № 889 of 05/22/03 (Art. 3.1.1).

Ukrainian legislation on migration does not contain any special standards regarding volunteers;
consequently, general rules apply. Citizens of the EU countries, USA, Canada, Switzerland, and most of
the Commonwealth of Independent States countries do not need entry visas to Ukraine; the mandatory
possession of a certain minimum amount of currency is also waived for those citizens provided their stay
in Ukraine does not exceed 90 days. Citizens from these countries are obliged to register within three
days of their arrival with an agency of the Minist ry of Interior in charge of citizenship, visas and
immigration, at the branch that corresponds to the administrative area of their stay.

Citizens of countries requiring entry visas in order to travel to Ukraine may stay in the country for
the period of time specified in their visas, which will not exceed six months. Persons possessing the status
of refugees and stateless persons and legitimately staying in Ukraine may participate in volunteer
activities, provided they observe any imposed limitations on travel.
In cases of longer-term volunteer activities, a residence permit may be required, which can be extended
for a period of up to one year, depending on the visa regime and the type of visa.

Regarding residents of countries which do not have special agreements with Ukraine on the status
of volunteers, the prevailing presumption of labor rela tions implies the necessity of obtaining a work
permit for a period of up to one year from the State Employment Center. Such permits can be issued in
response to an employer’s request
36 for a fee of around US$35; the permit is not required for participants
in educational programs, elected executives of NGOs and persons providing services to embassies and
other diplomatic outposts. A foreign national comme ncing work without obtaining the aforementioned
permit is subject to expulsion from Ukraine; an NGO’s executive is subject to a fine of around US$170
for each illegal volunteer.

In this legal context, an NGO may reduce its expenses and avoid potential sanctions by entering
into a civil legal agreement with its foreign volunt eers for the provision of uncompensated services.
Nevertheless, in the absence of special standards regard ing the status of such volunteers, such agreements
may not accommodate long-term volunteer activities, nor can they guarantee that in practice these
volunteers will not be subject to legislation on employment of foreign nationals.

In order to reimburse a volunteer who is a nonreside nt alien in Ukraine for his or her expenses
through a direct payment or via a bank transfer, the volunteer must obtain an individual tax ID number
from the internal revenue service of Ukraine.

Ukraine does not have a law on general mandatory state medical insurance. Medical care is
provided free of charge to residents by state and local institutions in accordance with the administrative
criteria of an individual’s place of residence. Consequently, in those cases where a foreign volunteer does
not have either prepaid medical insurance or a residence permit, the volunteer may find him or herself in
an extremely vulnerable situation in the event of an illness or injury while serving in Ukraine.

Key findings:

1) To date, Ukraine has not joined multilateral international agreements regulating volunteer
activities in the territory of other countries.
2) The national legislation of Ukraine does not co ntain any special standards pertaining to
promotion of volunteer activities of Ukrainian c itizens abroad, or of foreign citizens in the
territory of Ukraine.
36 Ordinance of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine #2028 of 11/01/ 99, “The procedure for obtaining a work permit in Ukraine
for foreign nationals and stateless persons.”

3) The presumption of labor relations implies a risk of additional sanctions to be imposed on foreign
volunteers and their recipient organizations for any violations of legislation on the employment of
foreign nationals.
4) Any long-term volunteer activities contemplated to last over 90 days require foreign nationals to
apply for an extension of their visa term or to obtain a permanent residence permit.

6. State policy for promoting volunteer activities

Despite numerous political declarations regarding the necessity of developing a standardized
legal foundation for the promotion of volunteer activities, the current state policy of Ukraine in this field
is neither systematic nor consistent . Unfortunately, this is true about all of the key elements of the
national policy mentioned below. The absence of specia l legal standards and a unified state policy in the
field of volunteer activities negatively impacts th e efficiency of the administrative practice and
management of volunteer activities by Ukrainian nonprofits.

6.1 The purpose and goals of the state policy

The development of goals and purposes is obviously decentralized, which can be explained by the
public authorities’ lack of a clear understanding of the advantages obtainable by supporting volunteer
activities. This refers not only to the field of soci al services but also to volunteerism in the context of
entering and/or returning to the employment market and professional training, which are topics of special
importance to Ukraine. Equally important are volunteer activities aimed at protection of the environment
and Ukrainian cultural heritage.

In any case, a state policy must be based on the vol untary nature of the activities, and should not
be limited to the civic duties just mentioned. It is unacceptable to limit participation in volunteer
activities to simply the disabled, unemployed indi viduals, young people and representatives of at-risk
groups, etc. Combining volunteer activities with paid work in the private or public sector should not be
The use of indicators and standards for developi ng the national policy in Ukraine seems to be

6.2 The development and adoption of a special law on volunteer activities

Measures aimed at implementation of the Resolution of the UN General Assembly dated
11/20/91, which calls on member-countries to create networks for volunteerism, adopt corresponding
legal acts, and observe the International Year of Volunteers under the auspices of the United Nations in
2001, led to the development of a number of draft laws in the field of volunteer activities. Since 1999, the
need to develop a special law and other legal acts re gulating volunteer activities have been repeatedly
confirmed by the lawmaking body of Ukraine, which in cluded these issues in parliamentary hearings and
legislative plans. Nevertheless, the draft laws initia ted by certain Parliament members and supported, in
particular, by the EC, have not been passed by the Parliament, nor have they resulted in the adoption of
any special national programs.

The Cabinet of Ministers adopted the concept of the draft law of Ukraine “On the Volunteer
Movement, 38 which was intended to resolve a number of issu es related to the inadequate legal regulation
of the status of volunteers and the lack of the government support of volunteer service. Nevertheless, the
final document did not meet expectations. In February 2006, the Parliament adopted a bill on
volunteerism (Draft Law #7550), developed by the Cabine t of Ministers, but the President vetoed it and
expressed a great deal of criticism, in particular, relate d to the limitations of the rights of citizens, and the
complete absence of any specific forms of state support for the volunteer movement. The issue of
promotion of the volunteer movement was subsequently defined as one of the main themes to be covered
37 For instance Draft Law # 807 “On the Volunteer Movement” was turned down by the Parliament in December 2006; the Draft
Law #3372 “On Volunteering” was recalled by the drafters in November 2007.
38 Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers #748- р of 10/15/04. Additionally, the Program of the Cabinet’s Activities (the Cabinet’s
Decree #14 of 01/16/08, Section 1. 1) stipulates developing amendments to the Law “On Charity” aimed at providing definitions
of the legal status of volunteers.

in the Concept of Support to be Granted by the Executive Branch of Power for the Development of Civil
Society. 39

Besides determining the status, rights, and duties of volunteers, the law being developed must
establish criteria for differentiating between employm ent and volunteer activities. It should also provide
definitions of short-term and l ong-term activities; establish the pr ocedure for adopting standards and
assessing volunteer service; provide specifics for reimbursement for certain type of expenses, including
those incurred within the framework of corporate volunteering; and establish guarantees of protection of
the rights of volunteers and third parties.

6.3. The coordination body for state policy in the field of volunteer activities

The traditional approach for the formation of national policy in Ukraine implies that a
coordination body would adopt decisions pertaining to the government policy on the basis and within the
framework of the authority vested in it by the Cabinet of Ministers. A coordination council on the issues
of development and support of the volunteer movement was created pursuant to the Decree of the Cabinet
of Ministers of Ukraine #225-p of 4/23/03, but in A ugust 2005 this body was disbanded and its authority
has not been transferred to any othe r executive agency. This is why ministries and other bodies of central
executive power, have, in essence, developed thei r own individual policies regarding volunteers.
Coordination of volunteer activities in the field of social services is vested in the Ministry of Labor and
Social Security and the Ministry of Family, Youth, and Sports (Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of
Ukraine # 1895/2003). Nevertheless, this Decree only re fers to the right to adopt certain measures aimed
at encouraging volunteer activities, w ith no budgeted financial support.

Local bodies of self-governance also need methodological and other assistance because the
unitary structure of the Ukrainian government limits the possibility of standardized regulation on the part
of the local government bodies. As of February 2008, pursuant to the Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers #
225, coordination councils were created in only six regional administrations, and their main goal is to
implement periodic monitoring of volunteers’ activities. A coordination board possessing adequate
authority is also needed for coordination and facilita tion of volunteer activities carried out by Ukrainian
citizens and organizations abroad; the issue of creating organizations similar to the Peace Corps of the
USA or the Friendensdient of Austria has not even been discussed yet.

6.4. Forms of state support of volunteer activities

In view of the inefficient procedures for budgeting public financing in Ukraine, the best strategy
for obtaining government support is to include a pr oject in an earmarked government program with
separate financing allocated in national and/or local budgets. Even prior to the adoption of such
earmarks, public support may be provided in a variety of contexts, including the following:

• Holding seminars for volunteers working with children, young people and persons of various at-
risk groups, as stipulated in government programs on the prevention of AIDS, substance abuse,
trafficking in women and children, and a number of other legal acts adopted in 1998 – 2003.

Public authorities are not obliged to reimburse organizations or volunteers for their expenses. It
seems obvious, however, that even partial (50-70%) reimbursement of expenses would
considerably encourage participation of volunteer s in international programs and in the work of
the public and community institutions. Neverthele ss, any reimbursement within the framework of
public procurement procedures is inefficient and very costly.
39 Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers #1035- р of 11/21/07.

• As a rule, volunteers of active employment age have an interest in obtaining written confirmation
of their work experience or documentation of m astering certain work skills. Meanwhile, existing
Ukrainian legislation regulating the provision of such official documentation permits execution
and issuance of only one such document per request. This documentation serves as the
individual’s work record, thus confirming the pr esumption of labor relations with volunteers.
Creation of a unified state registry or databa nk regarding long-term volunteer activities would be
much more efficient for these purposes than issuing a work record book.

The practice of creating and administering uni fied government registries and databanks in
Ukraine is long-standing and supports the assertion th at such official records can be very efficient
for the coordination of long-term volunteer activities and for resolving any disputes arising in the
field of volunteer service. In any case, creati on of an automated databank would considerably
ease the search for appropriate volunteers for va rious organizations; it would also facilitate
generation and access to reliable official documents and certification of volunteers as stipulated
by law.

6.5. Regulatory policy in the field of volunteer activities

The biggest threshold regulatory issue is the lack of a differentiated approach to short-term vs. long-
term volunteer service. It seems obvious that manda tory certification and participation in periodic
training and other professional upgrading programs, as we ll as many other regulatory procedures, are of
practical relevance only to long-term volunteer service.

Formulation of legislative criteria for long-term volunteer activities is of great importance for the
efficient public support of such activities. In partic ular, this includes execution of official documents
confirming the nature and terms for providing certa in services and obtaining necessary certifications;
standard agreements or contractual arrangement s regarding volunteer activities (as mentioned above,
long-term voluntary activity may not be implemented on the basis of a verbal agreement); procedures for
confirmation that long-term volunteer activity does not preclude the volunteer from engaging in various
other lawful activities (e.g., search for gainful em ployment by the unemployed, obtaining formal
education by underage volunteers, complying with the eligibility criteria for receiving state social
benefits, etc

Long-term volunteer activities may also necessitate special requirements regarding life and health
insurance, as well as mandatory insura nce against the liability of volunteers and/or their organizations. Of
special importance for minors and foreign volunteers is the need for regulatory procedures on movement
across borders, medical care issues, and other matters.
Additionally, although each volunteer may provide services free of charge on a short-term basis,
agreements between organizations a nd/or beneficiaries might be of a long-term nature as well, as is
allowed under existing regulations in the field of so cial service provision. Providing and accounting for
these uncompensated services, as well as the possib ility of volunteering after normal work hours and
during holidays, also require special coordination in the case of long-term volunteer activities. It seems
that unless a standard agreement prescribes otherwise, the parties should apply relevant legislative
provisions regulating employment issues.

The aforementioned lack of state standards leads to doubts regarding the appropriateness of
volunteer certification as a way of controlling the volunteers’ ability to provide certain services and as a
means of protecting the rights of beneficiaries . There are legitimate doubts as to whether certification
may be mandatory for most types of volunteer activities, even in the field of social services, because this
runs counter to the Law “On the Basis of the State Regulatory Policy in the Field of Economic

Activities.” State financing of training and certification of volunteers is not stipulated either. The
experience of Switzerland and other European countries us ing this type of certification has not been taken
into account in any of the legislative and regulatory drafts thus far. The requirement of licensing of
professional activities in the field of social services, prescribed by the existing legislation, conceptually
may not be applicable to physical persons who are not self-employed entrepreneurs. Moreover, charitable
activities per se in Ukraine are not recognized as social services, and, consequently, may not be subject to

6.6 Compliance with the legislation of the European Union

Since 2006, while the special law and by-laws of th e executive branch regarding volunteer activities
were being developed, all legislation of Ukraine has b een subject to mandatory review by the Ministry of
Justice to ensure compliance with EU legislation ( aquis communautaire) and the practice of the European
Court of Human Rights. Besides the aforementi oned Directive 2004/114/EC, the most important
international legal act of this type, a number of sp ecific documents should also be taken into account
while developing the Ukrainian national policy on volunteerism. For instance, Recommendation # R(81)3
of the Cabinet of Ministers of the CE “On Upbringing and Education of Children from Birth to the Age of
Eight Years” includes volunteers on the list of pers ons engaged in upbringing and educating children;
Directive 96/29 of the Euroatom defines the allowable doses of radiation for volunteers participating in
medical and biomedical research, etc.

Key findings:

1) In the absence of a special law and a coordinating government body, mapping out the state policy
in the field of the volunteer movement in gene ral, as well as the development and implementation
of the national policy in this field in particular , can be characterized as decentralized and branch-
2) The state policy aimed at supporting volunteer activities is not enhanced by efficient procedures for reimbursement of expenses, financing of in ternational volunteer activities and training of
3) Proposed regulatory policy regarding volunteer s primarily prescribes limitations: the legislative
drafts stipulate certification, licensing and other similar procedures as mandatory, even though
these are not required by existing special laws on regulatory policy, permits and licensing;
4) Development of the national policy on volunteeris m is being carried out without proper attention
to compliance with international agreements and st andards, or to best practices in the field.
40 Recommendation of the State Committee on Regulatory Policy and Entrepreneurship № 10307 оf 11/23/2005.

7. Recommendations regarding introducing amendments into current Ukrainian legislation

The most acute issues related to legislation regulating volunteer activities in Ukraine as of
February 2008 seem to be the following:

1) the presumption of labor relations in the absence of a general definition of volunteer activity that
would be applicable in different fields;
2) the absence of criteria for defining long-term volunt eer activities and special standards to regulate
those activities;
3) considerable limitations regarding the volunteer activities of certain groups, in particular, minors
and foreign nationals; and
4) the absence of a specialized gove rnment agency in charge of developing national policy and
providing public assistance to long-term volunteer activities.

Most of the post-communist EU member-countries do not have any special laws on volunteer
activities. The only exception is the Law of the Czec h Republic on Volunteer Service, but even this law
does not regulate all forms of volunteer activities, nor is this law of a framework nature. With this in
mind, and taking into account the issues related to th e adoption of a special law on volunteer activities in
Ukraine, one should note that the adoption of a law per se will not resolve all of the aforementioned
problems. The reason for this lies in the fact that legislation regarding the legal status of foreign
volunteers, taxation, mandatory insurance or the pro cedures for budgetary allocations, have, or may have,
legal prevalence over the provisions contained in a law on volunteer activities. Within the framework of
this new law on volunteers, it deems impossible to stipulate any special visa regime for foreign
volunteers, or a special procedure for imposing ta xation on reimbursement of volunteers’ expenses,
especially if the relevant payments are to be made from the national budget.

With this background, the following recommendations do not focus on the development of any
special law on volunteer activities, but rather on intr oducing amendments into a number of existing legal

7.1. It seems expedient to introduce a definition of “volunteer activities” that would rule out the
presumption of labor relations in Article 16 of the Law on Charity and create a special form of charitable
activity. The definition should make clear that the pr ovisions contained in the Code of Labor Laws (or
the draft Labor Code), or the Law “On the Employ ment of Population” may not be applied as legal
grounds for recognizing volunteer activities as paid em ployment. This clarification would also resolve
the issue of the mandatory work permit for foreign volunteers.

Specific fields of charitable activities are listed in detail in Article 4 of the Law on Charity and
include participation in local, national and interna tional programs of social and economic development,
social rehabilitation of persons in need of speci al care and assistance, environmental activities and
protection of cultural heritage, etc. This descripti on could be added to the definition of “volunteer
activities,” and would thus help to eliminate the threat of treating volunteers as hired employees.

Recommendation: In Section 1 of Article 16 of the Law on Charity, “the forms of exercising
charitable activities by the subjects of philanthropy,” the paragraph reading “assistance on the basis of
agreements and contracts on charitable activities” should be complimented by words “including
uncompensated provision of services and long-term voluntary activities.” In Section 2 of Article 16 of
this Law, the words “charitable organizations” should be substituted by the words “subjects of charitable
activities” because the name of the Article deals with all subjects of philanthropy, including physical
persons. In addition, the phrase “certification or licensing” should be complimented by words “or

7.2. As a rule, the laws of the EU countries define long-term volunteer activities based on a
volunteer’s service over a period of an established minimum number of consecutive months (as a rule,
three to six months), or on a minimum number of hours of volunteer activity over a period of 12 calendar
months. It is these long-term volunteer activities to wh ich various regulatory policies are applied (e.g.,
mandatory insurance of volunteers, required traini ng and other forms of specialized education,
certification, official documentation, confirmation of cer tain qualifications, etc.). Similarly, various forms
of state support (e.g., complete or partial reimburse ment of expenses, financing of certain programs and
projects, entry into official databanks, simplified pr ocedures for extensions of permitted stays in Ukraine
for foreigners, etc.) may only be applied to long-term volunteer activities.

Recommendation: A definition of “long-term volunteer activities” could be included in Article 16
of the Law on Charity, perhaps specifying a minimum term of three months. Nevertheless, special
standards would require additional clarification in ex isting legal acts at several different levels, including
state indices, norms and standards. From a long-term perspective, the best option would be adoption of a
national program aimed at supporting long-term volunteer activities that would be confirmed by the
Parliament in the form of a special law remaining in effect over a period of four to five years. Within the
framework of existing budget legislation, only the a doption of such a national program would allow for
the full or partial public financing of the program and of long-term volunteer activities.

7.3. Along with providing a framework definition of “volunteer activities” in the Law on
Charity, it would be advantageous to regulate the i ssue of social benefits and social security for
volunteers. Article 2 of this Law states unequivocally that activities of the subjects of philanthropy are
aimed at achieving public good, and that those subject s should not be deprived of their entitlement to
receiving state assistance. Regulation of long-term volunteering on the basis of agreements for charitable
activities or uncompensated provision of services coul d appropriately avoid suspension of state social
assistance over the period of time when a volunteer’s only compensation is for incurred expenses.

Article 27 of the Law directly guarantees the right of foreign nationals and stateless persons to
exercise any charitable activity in the territory of Ukraine, independently or jointly with other subjects of
philanthropy. This should remove the necessity of applying for a work permit, but it would not impact
the permissible length of stay in Ukraine.

If the standards of the Civil Code regarding un compensated provision of services could be applied
to volunteer activities, then existing legislation on taxati on may not need to be amended, except to include
the value of volunteer services provided by physical persons to non-profits as tax credits extended to
those volunteers. Still, this issue tends to be rather controversial in Ukraine, and requires certain
clarification of the criteria for assessing the value of such services and of the impact of the tax credit on
receiving state social assistance. At the same time , the requirement that an individual possess a work
record book in order to voluntarily pay into the sy stems of mandatory national retirement and social
insurance in essence requires volunteers to enter into employment contracts with their receiving
organization, irrespective of the volunteer’s legal stat us (minors, foreign nationals, recipients of public
social benefits, etc.). This practice should not impose limitations on volunteers.

Recommendation: The words “work record book” and “notarized work record book” should be excluded
from the Ordinance of the Pension Fund № 21-1 о f 21/19/2003 (Section 3.1.6, Addenda 2), Ordinance of
the Board of the Fund of mandatory state social se curity regarding temporary disability and expenses
related to births and deaths № 62 оf 06/02/2005 (Sections 5.2.5, 17), and from corresponding standard


Recommendation: Encourage the Parliament to include in the draft law on mandatory medical insurance
provisions that would guarantee the rights of volunteer s engaged in long-term activities to participation in
this type of insurance plan, and the right of non- profits to make corresponding payments on behalf of
volunteers, including foreign nationals.

Recommendation: The draft law regarding Ukraine’ s ascension to the European Convention on the
Promotion of a Transnational Long-Term Voluntary Service for Young People should be re-submitted to
the Parliament for consideration.

7.4. It seems obvious that, irrespective of the te rms of adoption of the all-national program
supporting long-term volunteer activities, the Cabine t of Ministers should once again define the
composition and the authority of a special coordinati on body in charge of developing and implementing
state policy in this field.

Recommendation: The Cabinet’s Decree regarding a coordination body in charge of long-term volunteer
activities should, in particular, stipulate the following authorities to be vested in this body: 1) pursuant to
the procedures prescribed by law, establish national st andards, standard agreements and other regulatory
provisions that would facilitate long-term volunteer ac tivities; 2) maintain an automated databank with
information on participants in long-term volunteer ac tivities, and provide access to this databank to public
agencies and other non-profits; and 3) coordinate fina ncing of training provided to volunteers within the
framework of various national programs.

Reference materials

Information pertaining to legislative acts, state programs in the field of volunteer activities, and relevant
projects is published on a regular basis on the websites of the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada
( ) and the Government of Ukraine ( ).

Information regarding various opportu nities and issues related to volunteer activities in different fields is
regularly published on the following sites:

Center for Volunteering “Dobraya volia” (Good Will)
( )

“Alternative – V,” the All-Ukrainian Association of Youth Cooperation
( )

“Svit,” the Union of Volunteers in the Field of Information Technology
( )

The Union of Ukrainian Young People
( )

PLAST, the National Scout Organization of Ukraine
( )

World Volunteer Web
( )

International Association for Volunteer Effort
( )