The purpose of the Volunteer Workers Policy and Procedures is to provide overall guidance and direction to managers, staff, and volunteers. It is also to remind units of their legal responsibilities when engaging volunteers. This will assist units to comply with Federal and State regulations and UW policies while protecting the interest of volunteers, the unit, and the University. Filling out of the College Volunteer Service Agreement is only required if the unit or program recruiting volunteers does not have its own policy and form that meet or exceed the standards detailed herein.


A volunteer is someone who:

  • Is unpaid;
  • Offers services freely without coercion or pressure to serve;
  • Has no expectation of receiving pay or other benefits, including future positions at the University;
  • Does not currently and/or did not previously hold a position performing the same tasks; and
  • Does not displace a current or past paid position and whose volunteer services are not substantially the same as a paid position.

Please see the Washington Department of Labor and Industries Employment Standards Administrative Policy ES.A.1 which further defines volunteer service.


Volunteer service should not displace work performed by University employees, nor should it be used to circumvent the established processes that govern the University’s hiring processes.

Volunteers should not normally have an employment relationship with the University, and volunteer service is not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act or Washington wage and hour laws. However, employees outside of the unit may volunteer for events and programs in other units as long as the volunteer activity is not a general duty or responsibility of their current paid position.

Supervisors should track the dates and hours of volunteers. This is to ensure that if a volunteer is injured, the volunteer is covered by the University’s workers’ compensation and insurance policy. Volunteers receiving academic credit for work they perform are classified as “interns” and are not covered by UW workers’ compensation. Interns must provide their own coverage for accidents or injuries that occur while performing intern work. Volunteers who are covered by UW workers’ compensation and are injured on the job should follow the same claim filing and accident reporting procedure as paid employees.

Volunteers who are not covered by UW workers’ compensation:

  • Unpaid student interns who are enrolled at the UW or another institution of higher education and participating in an approved/authorized work-training program for a defined period of time.

Volunteers who are covered by UW workers’ compensation:

  • Unpaid student volunteers not enrolled at an institution of higher education and/or not in an approved/authorized work-training program for a designated period of time;
  • Unpaid high school students volunteering for credit; and
  • Unpaid UW, other college, or high school student volunteers NOT receiving credit.
  • Unpaid non-student volunteers.

Volunteers under the age of 18 cannot:

  • Drive or operate machinery or
  • Perform jobs requiring specialized personal protective equipment.

Washington State has further described rules regarding working minors on the Labor and Industries website.

Volunteer service should not be engaged in if is it is not permitted by visa status and immigration law rules. Please see Section III of the volunteer form.

  • J-2 visa holders who have obtained an I-766 Employment Authorization Document may volunteer. (A J-2 visa holder who volunteers without obtaining an Employment Authorized Document may jeopardize their visa status and subject the University to significant fines and/or loss of federal grant funding.)
  • Visa holders may not volunteer services while their work authorization is pending.
  • Please consult with the Office of International Student Services (ISS) about restrictions for individuals in other visa classifications at 206-221-7857.

Training Requirements

At a minimum, supervisors must provide the following to volunteers:

  • The opportunity to attend orientation;
  • Access to online Asbestos Awareness Training;
  • Information on how to report emergencies, injuries, and unsafe conditions;
  • Specific information about hazards and/or unsafe conditions pertaining to the activity(ies) and location(s);
  • Emergency evacuation procedures and routes.

Volunteer Qualifications

  • Volunteers must be 14 years or older. If less than 18 years old, parental consent to volunteer is required.
  • Volunteers under the age of 18 may have restrictions on their work hours.
  • If a volunteer is a UW employee, their job duties must be substantially different from the volunteer service.
  • A volunteer must pass a background check if their duties fall into one or more of these six categories of “security/safety sensitive” positions.
  • Additional training may be required based on the volunteer’s activities.

Volunteer Expectations

  • Follow State and University policies, paying particular attention to University policies on ethics, computer use, and child abuse;
  • Follow dress code policy of the unit;
  • Willingness to learn;
  • Ensure absence/attendance is recorded by unit.

Effective Date:                   May 15, 2013

Last Review Date:             June 25, 2013