HRM-001: Authorization of Volunteers in the Work Place

Date: 07/08/2003 Status: Final
Last Revised: 04/02/2009
Policy Type: University
Oversight Executive: Vice President for Finance, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Applies To: Academic Division.
Reason for Policy:

This policy establishes a protocol for the engagement of volunteers under circumstances that clarify when and how volunteers are authorized to perform activities on behalf of the University.

Definition of Terms in Statement:
  • Long–Term Volunteer:

    A volunteer engaged in accordance with this policy for a period longer than one week.

  • Non–Immigrant Alien:

    An alien (foreign national) whose reason for coming to the United States involves a temporary stay that will end when its purpose has been accomplished.

  • Short–Term Volunteer:

    A volunteer engaged in accordance with this policy for a period not longer than one week.

  • Volunteer:

    An individual permitted under specific conditions to perform activities on behalf of the University, but who is not an employee of the University of Virginia and, therefore, is not generally entitled to the benefits granted to employees.

Policy Statement:

University departments and academic units that engage volunteers (except individuals designated visiting faculty) must complete either the short-term volunteer form or the long-term volunteer form to document the engagement of the volunteer.

Departments and units that engage volunteers must adhere to the following requirements:

  • Recruitment
    • Volunteers must be selected on the basis of qualifications and abilities for the service they are being asked to perform.
  • Screening
    • The responsible University faculty/staff person should take steps to ensure a reference or background check is completed if appropriate for the nature and sensitivity of the service to be performed by the volunteer. The volunteer should provide two references and be informed that the references will be contacted.
  • Training
    • The responsible University faculty/staff person must ensure that the volunteer is instructed/trained as necessary to ensure the volunteer has the knowledge and skills needed to perform his or her activities.
  • Responsibility
    • The responsible University faculty/staff person should communicate to the volunteer the expectations for attendance, performance of activities, and compliance with University policies and applicable law. The volunteer should be provided with a written description of the volunteer’s authorized duties and should sign the description before beginning any activities. This signed description (which is part of the Office of Risk Management’s Long-Term Volunteer Form) must remain on file with the Department that engages the volunteer.
  • Utilization
    • Volunteers may be engaged under those circumstances deemed appropriate by the responsible University faculty/staff person. Any concerns about the engagement of volunteers in a particular situation should be discussed in advance with the Office of Risk Management.
  • Supervision
    • The responsible University faculty/staff person should provide direction and guidance to the volunteer as appropriate.
  • Separation/Termination
    • The responsible University faculty/staff person may terminate the services of a volunteer at any time without cause or prior notice and solely within the University’s discretion.

Departments must ensure that volunteers and employees understand their respective responsibilities and limitations, their relationship to each other, and their respective roles in fulfilling the objectives of the department.

Volunteers engaged to assist the University in its education, research or public service missions must have written authorization from the University. The written documentation should be signed by the appropriate department head (e.g., Chair, Dean, Director, Vice-President, etc.) authorizing an individual to provide volunteer services to the University. The documentation must be maintained on file in the department utilizing the volunteer’s services in accordance with normal record retention policy. There are two types of acceptable documentation: (i) a short-term volunteer form; or (ii) a long-term volunteer form.

  1. Non-Immigrant Dependent:

Dependent family members of non-immigrant aliens are allowed to join the primary beneficiary of a non-immigrant visa in the United States. The University does not, however, sponsor these dependents, and there are certain employment-related restrictions on each visa type.

Unauthorized employment of dependent family members of non-immigrant aliens is a violation of federal law with potential liability for both the dependent family member and the University. Such dependent family members may not volunteer or engage in unpaid employment in positions at the University that normally are paid positions. Accordingly, volunteer activities of such dependent family members must be limited to charitable activities on behalf of social service organizations, religious organizations, non-profit groups, etc.

Please contact Immigration Services if you have any questions about whether a foreign national and/or their dependents may volunteer at the University.


To authorize and document volunteer activities, departments must use the forms referred to in this policy. Any exceptions to these forms of documentation must include all the items of information present in the Long and Short-Term Volunteer Forms respectively, depending on which form is applicable to the situation, and receive approval from the Director of Risk Management. See guidelines for Documentation for Volunteers at the University of Virginia.

Related Information:

See School of Medicine Policy, 2.300 Volunteers in Research
Medical Center Policy 0058, Medical Center Volunteers

Major Category: Human Resource Management
Approved by, Date: Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, 07/08/2003
Revision History: Updated 4/2/09.This is the first version of this policy.