Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The Parliament of Azerbaijan has adopted the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan On Voluntary Activities, according to a posting on ICNL’s website. Primarily a declaration of the government's support of volunteerism, the new law is considered an improvement in the regulatory environment for volunteers in Azerbaijan. Specifically, it states that the unpaid work of volunteers is not illegal. The present Labor Code of Azerbaijan prohibits paying workers less than the established minimal salary, and under this prohibition, volunteers can be considered “workers.” Even though the government has not been enforcing this prohibition against non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and volunteers, both groups were concerned that they might be subjected to the government’s harassment if the government decided to impose the prohibition. This new law clearly states that the unpaid work of volunteers is both legal and supported by the state, and requires the government to bring other legislation, including the Labor Code, in compliance with the new Law on Voluntary Activities. This law was initiated by the Not-For-Profit Law Coalition established within the Civil Society Project, whose members drafted, and advocated for, adoption of the law for over two years.