New draft law to regulate volunteers and social economy

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A DRAFT law to regulate voluntary works and social economy has been approved by the Spanish central government.

The vice-president of the Government, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, said it will represent a commitment between equality and social justice, and praised the effort of six million volunteers who are currently active in Spain.

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The new law was conceived to update the current regulations which appeared 20 years ago, and would provide legal coverage to the voluntary work, as well as boost and encourage its practice.

The social economy law comes to fill a void, as this sector has not yet been regulated.


Amongst the modifications for volunteers are, for instance, the prohibition for citizens who have been condemned for crimes against minors or gender-based violence to partake in any voluntary activities.

On the other hand, it seeks to encourage the participation of university students and minors authorised by their parents or guardians, as long as it does not interfere with their academic training.

For those volunteers between 16 and 18 years old, an authorisation will also be requested.


The new draft defines voluntary work as those activities of general interest carried out by private citizens who have a charitable vocation and which are carried out during a short period of time and do not have any financial compensation.

The social economy (or third sector) has been defined as the group of non-profitable, private organisations, which have originated from a resident’s initiative and seek to fulfil goals of general interest through charity and participation, and uses volunteers for this purpose.

The draft law has proposed for these organisations to be registered, to chose their volunteers without falling into discrimination and provide them with insurance which will cover them in case of an accident in the workplace.





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