Volunteer Policy

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  1. Purpose

    Southern Illinois University Carbondale utilizes volunteer support to accomplish its mission and goals and provide valuable educational experiences. This policy is designed to define relationships, clarify responsibilities, reduce volunteer risk, and protect the interest of the University, its volunteers, and the community it serves. This Policy does not cover individuals who provide volunteer services for entities that are indirectly related to the business of the University (e.g. Alumni or Foundation Association volunteers, other governmental volunteers, etc.) or individuals who volunteer to serve as human subjects as part of any University research protocol.

  2. Definitions
    1. Volunteer. A volunteer is an uncompensated individual who is authorized by a University department or unit to perform services directly related to the business of the University, support the activities of the University, or gain experience in specific endeavors. By definition, volunteers perform services without promise, expectation, or receipt of any compensation, class credit, future employment, or any other tangible benefit. Volunteers are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act and are not considered employees for any purpose. Volunteers are not eligible for employee benefits of any type including but not limited to Workers’ Compensation coverage. Volunteers are not provided medical or accident insurance and injuries and/or property damage sustained in the course of volunteering are not covered by the University. Volunteers serve at the pleasure of the University and a volunteer assignment may be terminated at any time without notice of cause and in the sole discretion of the University.
    2. Volunteer supervisor. A volunteer supervisor is a University employee, including but not limited to a faculty member, who is responsible for and in charge of the volunteer.
  3. Volunteer Eligibility

    Any individual who meets the following eligibility requirements and restrictions may serve as a University volunteer:

    1. A volunteer must have adequate experience, qualifications, and training for the task(s) he/she will be asked to perform;
    2. Current University employees may not serve as volunteers in any capacity in which they are currently employed at the University or which is essentially similar to or related to the individual’s regular work at the University.
    3. Volunteers generally must be at least eighteen (18) years of age. A volunteer who is under the age of eighteen (18) but at least sixteen (16) years of age may serve as a volunteer if parental consent for the specific volunteer activities has been obtained prior to beginning of the volunteer activities. The Volunteer Supervisor shall obtain the appropriate completed Parental Consent form.
    4. Any volunteer service involving minors shall be in accordance with the Policy on Activities Involving Minors.
    5. All volunteer services shall be in accordance with any federal or state requirements or restrictions including but not limited to restrictions related to immigration status or applications.
  4. Responsibilities:
    1. University Responsibility. The University has a duty to exercise reasonable care in protecting its volunteers from foreseeable harm. The University recognizes its responsibility to comply with all applicable federal and state statutes and University policies.
    2. Departmental Responsibility. When engaging a volunteer, it is the Department’s responsibility to ensure the services being provided are for and directly related to the business of the University. The Department shall be responsible for ensuring completion and maintenance of all signed volunteer forms. These forms shall be kept on file in the department for no less than three (3) years from completion of service.
    3. Volunteer Supervisor Responsibilities. The volunteer supervisor is responsible for exercising reasonable care in planning and implementing the experience and enforcing compliance with University policies and procedures. The volunteer supervisor is responsible for the direct day-to-day management and guidance of the volunteer and must be available for consultation and assistance. The volunteer supervisor’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to, proper screening; orientation; training; ensuring that volunteers understand their duties, rights, and responsibilities; maintaining documentation of the screening, orientation, training and information provided to volunteers regarding their rights; maintaining complete records of dates of service, duties performed, and evaluation of services; obtaining required approvals; and securing volunteer forms when required under this Policy. Additional forms and information to assist the volunteer supervisor with these responsibilities can be found in the SIU Carbondale Volunteer Services Guide.
    4. Volunteer’s Responsibility. Volunteers shall abide by applicable federal and state statutes and all University policies and procedures including but not limited to laws, policies, and procedures regarding ethical behavior, confidentiality, financial responsibility, non-discrimination, sexual harassment and assault, and drugs and alcohol. A volunteer shall establish proof of identity and citizenship, permanent residency or, current visa status. Volunteer status may not be used as a way to avoid or defer compliance with the employment eligibility requirements of federal immigration laws. A volunteer may be required to sign a Volunteer Service Agreement form prior to performing services. A volunteer may end his/her service at any time and without advance notice.
  5. Volunteer Services Agreements
    1. Activities not requiring a volunteer services agreement. The University generally considers the following activities as low-risk activities and thus does not require a completed volunteer form. However, a volunteer supervisor may require a form be completed for these activities.
      1. Commencement volunteer;
      2. Telephone volunteer;
      3. clerical services;
      4. public speaking;
      5. greeting or directing individuals as a receptionist; and/or
      6. distributing approved material at fairs or other special events
    2. Activities require a volunteer service agreement. A Volunteer Service Agreement is required for volunteers performing any of the following activities unless this requirement is waived by the Chancellor or designee:
      1. laboratory activities;
      2. Library activities
      3. professional services, such as those performed by accountants, architects, doctors, engineers, etc.;
      4. services involving travel of any kind;
      5. services with minors;
      6. services with animals;
      7. services related to research projects;
      8. services with confidential information; and/or
      9. activities in any environment which requires orientation or training.
    3. Prohibited Volunteer Activities. The following activities may not be performed by volunteers without the express written permission of the Chancellor or designee and may require a special agreement form:
      1. services involving hazardous material or area;
      2. operating heavy equipment;
      3. any activity considered inappropriate for an employee;
      4. working with animals or in laboratories where animals are present;
      5. working with or having access to any export-controlled materials;
      6. working with any BSL III and BSL IV protocols;
      7. working with any form of stored energy (e.g., physical energy stored in air, gas, steam, water pressure, or in springs, elevated machines, rotating flywheels, fans, hydraulic systems, etc.); and/or
      8. entering into any contract on behalf of the University.
  6. Special Consideration Involving Minors

    When volunteer services involve contact with children, the volunteer supervisor shall ensure that such volunteer service is in accordance with the Activities Involving Minors Policy, including but not limited to the appropriate background checks. If a volunteer is an individual under eighteen years of age, special consideration shall be given to the types of assignments and supervision of that volunteer. Appropriate parental consent forms shall be obtained prior to an individual under eighteen (18) years of age engaging in any volunteer activities at the University


Because many universities have policies involving the use of volunteers this policy may look similar to others. In the creation of this Policy, several other university policies were reviewed including: Purdue University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and University of Chicago.