Is helping a friend considered volunteer/unpaid work under law?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Is helping a friend considered volunteer/unpaid work under law?

I know it’s a very extreme question trying to rap my head around the definitions by law as they may have an impact on surrounding laws. If a friend asks for my help to move their stuff from their old to their new

apartment, considering the profession of movers exists and this friend could, in theory, ask a mover to help and pay for their services instead of asking me to do so for free is my rendering of this service/favor, under a verbal agreement of no pay, technically considered or can be considered volunteer work or unpaid


Asked on October 1, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

While the profession of movers does exist, as you point out, it is also very common for people to help family and friends move without receiving compensation therefore or it being considered "work." So long as you are not paid and this person is a friend (you can substantiate that at need), you'd be find. Most things can be done for compensation by someone or another--e.g. giving a friend a lift (Uber), walking or watching a friend's dog (a professional dog walker or pet sitter), helping a friend clean up after a party or BBQ (a cleaning or housekeeping service). That someone could be hired to do something does not make it a "job" when a friend helps out, so long as the context shows he/she is just helping a friend. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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