Cambodia is a huge destination for international volunteers, but the receiving NGO or organization needs to be aware of certain provisions of the Labor Law which could apply. Though they’re called “volunteers”, many are in fact given money in exchange for their work. Whether you call it a stipend, per diem, or beer money, it’s money for work – also known as a “job”.

It doesn’t matter that the sum won’t cover much more than their tuk-tuk rides, it’s still likely several times the average income of a Cambodian, and considered remuneration by law. This means they’ll likely be defined as workers under the Labor Law, with all the protections and benefits that go with it: annual leave, severance pay, termination safeguards, etc. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and if considered ahead of time can be managed through proper HR policies. It shouldn’t be a reason not to welcome on volunteers, but NGOs need to be aware of what they’re taking on.

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