Voluntary Work


Managing to combine mobility and employment is one of the challenges spouses have to face when accompanying a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Officer on postings abroad. Voluntary work gives spouses an opportunity to return to the workforce. Spouses can do volunteer work and gain skills and experience during periods when they can’t continue with their own career at post.


Report: “Volunteering – a Springboard to Employment” EUFASA Conference, Paris 2008

The purpose of the presentations was to describe the best way to enlarge volunteer work experience and to give information on how to legalise volunteer work experience. The following presentations were made at the conference:

  • Recognition of Work Experience: system of accreditation of work experience whereby experience (covering skills acquired through volunteer work) could be officially accredited for degrees, diplomas and other qualifications with career relevance.
  • Volunteer Passport: a record of volunteering activities or a certificate for the volunteer that is a qualifying document for employers.
  • A careers browsing tool allowing the volunteer redefine a particular volunteering experience and translate it into a series of skills that gives her/him a range of jobs she/he can move into.

Workshop: “Voluntary Work Certificate” EUFASA Conference, Prague 2008

  • Certificate of Voluntary
  • Work Guidelines for Completion


  • Employees are entitled to specific leave to do volunteer jobs in Germany, France, Italy (depending on the size of the company), and Poland (for doctors, depending on the size of the company).
  • Spouses returning home with volunteering experience benefit from government assistance like other job seekers: advisory services (Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, France); individual guidance (Switzerland, France, Germany); employment mentoring (Poland, Belgium – only if the volunteer has previously worked for the same employer); skills assessment (Germany, France, Poland, Switzerland – paid by the MFA); training (Austria).
  • Spouses returning home with volunteering experience could qualify for a degree (France).


In order for spouses to benefit from volunteer work abroad and market this work experience when seeking employment on returning to the home country, MFAs should:

  • Refer spouses (before leaving on post) to the person at the embassy in charge of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and cooperation matters who can supply the list of NGOs and organisations where volunteer work may be available.
  • Certify and authenticate any volunteer work experience at post.
  • Provide spouses, who have volunteer work experience, with financial and advisory services when they return home and require certification for a corresponding diploma: – go through accreditation process – register with a university to get the proper academic equivalence – get referred to an employment agency.