New Regulation: 2017 China Volunteer Service Law

Following the recent changes in Foreign and domestic charity laws, this week the Volunteer Service Regulation was released (Chinese version here), and just like the charity laws, there is the potential for this law to impact CSR programming in China.

With an effective date of July 1, 2017, the first article setting out the intent of the new law:

These Regulations are drafted so as to develop the field of volunteer service and carry forward the volunteer spirit of dedication, brotherly love, mutual aid and improvement, to regulate volunteer service and protect the lawful rights and interests of volunteers, volunteer service organizations and the recipients of volunteer service, and to advance the progress of civilization.

While the law itself, and the majority of its articles, appear to be relatively straightforward, there are a few articles that NGOs accepting volunteers and CSR Managers organizing volunteers, should be aware of as there are some specific provisions for the registration and management of volunteers that MAY add an additional hurdle to be clear.  Even if only administratively.

Key Articles to Consider Before Volunteering

Article 4: The carrying out of volunteer service shall follow the principles of lawfulness, voluntariness, non-compensation, equality, and integrity; and must not violate social morals, and must not harm national security, the societal public interest or the lawful rights and interests of others.

CR:  While this law may not seem to apply to the average corporate volunteering program, but in the past few years, NGOs who have been focused in areas of legal service, labor rights, and LGBT have come under closer scrutiny.  For many firms, particularly global these may be issues that are considered core to a CSR program (i.e. a law firm offering pro-bono services or a bank engaging employees as part of an inclusion program), but under this new regulation, those activities could be looked at differently.

Article 19: Volunteer service organizations shall provide volunteers participating in volunteer service with the necessary work conditions and safety guarantees, help volunteers resolve difficulties encountered in the course of volunteer service, and preserve volunteers’ lawful rights and interests.  Before volunteer service organizations arrange for volunteers to participate in volunteer service where personal injury might occur, they shall purchase accidental personal injury insurance for the volunteers.

CR: The primary solution for this is to look at programs with a personal risk lens, and be sure to be sure all employees are insured.  What is unclear at this point though is whether or not insurance is needed to protect the firm from any legal action that may result from an on-site accident that affects a beneficiary (ie. an elderly companion is hurt in a fall during event).  This is an area that firms should review, and respond accordingly.

Article 25: Volunteer service organizations shall faithfully record volunteers’ basic personal information, volunteer service situations, training situations, commendation and reward situations, evaluation situations and other information, and shall collect them for the volunteer service information system unified or designated by the civil affairs department of the State Council

CR:  It is now a legal requirement to collect, record, and store the name, contact information, and national ID (or passport) number for each project, with a description of activities.

Article 38: if the personal or property damage occurs during volunteering, the organization or individual shall bear the corresponding civil liability.

CR: Same as Article 19.

Article 43: Where violations of provisions of these Regulations constitute a violation of public security administration, the public security organs will give public security administrative sanctions in accordance with law; where a crime is constituted, criminal responsibility is pursued in accordance with law.

CR: Same as Article 4.


In our opinion, while there are some additional administrative measures and potential impact to programs, the quality and intent of this new regulation are quite good.

It clearly sets out the rules of the road that will protect volunteers and beneficiaries alike, and like the new charity law, the impact to corporate CSR programs will likely be nil with a little plan.

Should you have any questions about how this law may apply to your programs, feel free to contact us!

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