The unofficial support offered by tens of thousands of unpaid workers often includes transporting goods and people in their private vehicles. But this creates a health and safety problem if the organisations involved have not made sure they are fit for the purpose and insured for business use.
Members of the London West region of the Association of Car Fleet Operators heard that in just two organisations the problem affected more than 6,000 volunteers. The meeting heard that it was difficult to persuade some organisations that they had to recognise their responsibility to volunteer drivers on the road.
The issue also affects the modern workplace, with informal arrangements for tasks such as collecting the post.
One company revealed it had banned the use of private cars for business, only to find that employees had been delivering company letters to the Post Office in their private cars on the way home. Members agreed that the practice was equivalent to using a private car for business use.
As a result, they said the company should change the way it organised its post to ensure employees were insured.