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Volunteer Policy

I.  Purpose
To establish uniform procedures for screening and engaging volunteers, ensure that volunteers’ relationships with the university are clearly established and understood by both parties, and to reduce the risk and protect the interests of the university, its volunteers, and the community it serves.

II.  Definition of a University Volunteer
Volunteers are individuals who perform services directly related to the activities of the University for their own benefit, to support the humanitarian, educational, charitable or public service activities of the University, or to gain experience in specific endeavors. Volunteers perform services without promise, expectation or receipt of any compensation, future employment or any other tangible benefit.

To ensure that an individual performing volunteer services is not an employee for purpose of the Fair Labor Standards Act, all of the following criteria must be satisfied in order for an individual to be approved as a volunteer:
1. The services are intended to be voluntary and to be rendered without compensation.
2. The services must constitute a bona fide effort of the individual to volunteer for a humanitarian or public service purpose or for the benefit of his/her professional experience.
3. The fact that the individual is an employee elsewhere in the University does not mean he/she cannot volunteer in a capacity that differs from his/her employment. However, where an employment relationship does exist, that relationship may not be waived; so, for example, an employee cannot volunteer to do activities that are the same or similar to ones he/she performs in his/her job.
4. Individuals volunteer their time for their own personal motives, without promise or expectation of compensation, at hours that suit their own convenience.
5. Volunteers must not be utilized in ways that displace or replace regular employees in the performance of their normal duties.

III.  Policy
A. Rights and Responsibilities of University Volunteers:  
University Volunteers are expected to abide by University policies and external regulations that govern their actions including, but not limited to, ethical behavior, confidentiality, financial responsibility, drug/alcohol use, health and safety, protected health information, non-discrimination, and computer use.

Foreign nationals must have the appropriate visa and authorization to engage in volunteer activities.

Volunteers do not have an employment relationship with Tulane University on any grounds, and are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Therefore, they are not eligible for compensation or any University benefits as a result of this volunteer association.

B.  Who May Volunteer
Anyone, including retirees, students, alumni, or others, may provide volunteer services to the University, with the following restrictions:

  • A non-student under the age of eighteen may only become a University volunteer for services for which a Volunteer Agreement is not necessary (see “Services Not Requiring a Volunteer Agreement” section of this document).
  • An employee may not become a University volunteer at the University in any capacity in which he or she is currently employed, or which is essentially similar to the individual’s regular work at the University.

Note: Services that are not dire ctly related to University business, such as those performed by employees for employee organizations, are generally not covered by this policy.  

C.  Services Not Requiring a Volunteer Agreement

The University does not require a completed volunteer agreement for the following activities:

  • Volunteer fundraising activities
  • Advisory council participation
  • Commencement volunteers
  • Gallery/program guides
  • Museum docent
  • Public speakers
  • Reunion Chairs
  • Participation in all volunteer committees

D.  Activities That Do Require a Volunteer Agreement and Are Subject to Volunteer Protocols

Any department engaging a University volunteer must maintain a completed and signed copy of the Volunteer Agreement along with any associated documents.  A volunteer is generally required to complete a Volunteer Agreement to perform the following activities:

  • Laboratory activities not specifically prohibited by Section E below
  • Professional services, such as those being performed by accountants, architects, doctors, engineers, etc. whether or not the work is deemed a donation.
  • Activities in any environment that  would require orientation or training
  • Activities with patients and/or subjects of experiments
  • Activities with minors

E.  Prohibited Activities

University volunteers may not replace employee positions or impair the employment of a University position.  Volunteers’ services are generally limited to humanitarian, charitable or public services. University volunteers are also prohibited from performing the following activities:

  • Operating heavy equipment or motor vehicles
  • Working with any BSL III and BSL IV protocols
  • Working with or having access to any export-controlled materials
  • Working with stored energy (physical energy stored in air, gas, steam, water pressure, or in springs, elevated machines, rotating flywheels, fans, hydraulic systems, etc.)
  • Any activity which would be considered inappropriate for an employee
  • Entering in to any contract on behalf of the University
  • Working with bio-hazardous or infectious materials
  • Working with animals or in laboratories where animals are present

F.  Payments to University Volunteers

Payment for volunteer services is not permitted under any circumstance.  However, a department may reimburse volunteers for actual and reasonable expenses, following University guidelines for reimbursements.  Reimbursements must not substitute compensation and cannot be linked to productivity.

G.  Volunteer Dismissal

The University and volunteer may end his/her volunteer service at any time and without any notice.

H.  Procedure For Departments Seeking Volunteers In Activities Which Require A Volunteer Agreement

Any Department of the University seeking to utilize a volunteer for activities which require a volunteer agreement must abide by the following procedures before allowing the volunteer to begin services for the University:

  • Have the individual sign the Volunteer Agreement and a Voluntee
  • Background Investigation Release Form allowing the University to conduct a background check;
  • Forward the Agreement and Authorization to HR
  • Not allow the volunteer to begin services for the University until HR verifies that the information provided in the Agreement and pursuant to the background check are acceptable.

Please note that the costs of performing background checks will be borne by the Department requesting the volunteer.

I.  Related Forms

Volunteer Agreement
Description of Volunteer Service
Volunteer Profile
Parental Consent Form
Volunteer Background Investigation Release Form

Any questions may be directed to Employee Relations in The Office of Human Resources. This policy is effective as of November 1, 2009.