For many employers, the pandemic, the displacement of workers following events in Ukraine, Russia and Afghanistan, and the general increase in new ways of working, has led to a greater use of less traditional employment arrangements and a broader physical location of workers. For non-profit organizations, it can be difficult to navigate and comply with the legal framework as it applies to each of these types of workers and the different jurisdictions they work in.

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PILnet, together with Eversheds Sutherland and other partners, present a Global Employment Compass that aims to strengthen the resilience and autonomy of non-profit organizations by providing an easily accessible and user-friendly guide on employment  laws in numerous jurisdictions worldwide.


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Do employment laws apply to volunteers?

CSOs often rely on volunteers and interns and in a lot of jurisdictions it is important to clarify their legal status and responsibilities. Employment laws generally do not apply to volunteers and interns in the same way they apply to regular employees. Employment laws typically cover regular employees who have an employer-employee relationship with an organization. This includes full-time, part-time, and sometimes seasonal workers who receive compensation for their work. Volunteers are individuals who offer their services to an organization without expecting monetary compensation. Because they are not paid employees, employment laws related to wages, overtime, and other compensation-related matters do not apply to them. However, organizations may still be subject to certain laws or regulations concerning volunteer management, such as volunteer safety or liability issues.

Check out section 1 of our Global Employment Compass: Summary of applicable rights for different categories of workers – to understand the difference between different categories of workers.

How can CSOs ensure fair wages and benefits for their employees?

Ensuring fair wages and benefits for employees  involves a combination of strategic practices and a commitment to equity. Here are steps CSOs can take to achieve this: establish clear and transparent salary structures that outline how compensation is determined, including factors like experience, job role, and performance; ensure pay equity by conducting periodic salary audits to identify and rectify any gender or diversity-based pay gaps, and compliance with legal requirements.

You can find more information about this in section 2.2 of the Global Employment Compass – Conditions of employment – Wages.

What are the key considerations when drafting employment contracts?

When drafting employment contracts, it’s essential to create clear, comprehensive, and legally sound agreements that protect the rights and interests of both the employer and the employee. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind: parties involved, job title and description, salary and compensation, work hours and schedule, terms of employment, termination, benefits and leave, etc.

Check out section 2.1 at the Global Employment Compass – Contracts of Employment to get more information in your jurisdiction.

Are CSOs required to provide employee or consultant benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans?

In many countries, legal requirements exist for employers to provide certain benefits, while independent contractors or consultants are typically responsible for obtaining their insurance and other benefits independently. These requirements for employees may encompass access to health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and various other benefits. The specific mandates can vary significantly based on the jurisdiction. 

Some benefit regulations are contingent upon the size of the organization. Smaller CSOs may have different obligations compared to larger organizations. For instance, in the United States, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) delineates distinct rules for small employers (those with fewer than 50 employees) and large employers (those with 50 or more employees).

For detailed information regarding social security provisions for employees and consultants in the country where your personnel are located, please refer to the Social security sections 2.2 and 3.2 in our Global Employment Compass.

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You are a pro bono lawyer and want to join this global project?

The work on this project is ongoing. If you are a pro bono lawyer and would like to join the project, please contact  us at [email protected]. The full list of countries that have been covered by our pro bono partners is available here. If you don’t see the country you’re interested in on this live tracker, it means we need your assistance to complete the research!


PILnet and partners participating in this Global Employment Compass guide are not liable towards third parties for the accuracy of the information contained in this guide. The information contained herein does not set out a comprehensive picture of the law and is not tailored to any particular circumstances. It should not therefore be seen as a substitute for obtaining legal advice. The research was carried out in 2023  and responds to the regulatory framework in effect during this time period.