U-M has a long history of encouraging individuals to volunteer and welcomes their presence. These guidelines are for the U-M community and potential volunteers to provide information regarding who may volunteer, where individuals may volunteer at U-M, what information volunteers need to know, and what, if any, liability there is to U-M or to the volunteer in particular circumstances.
U-M appreciates the efforts of volunteers, who enhance a number of programs and activities, and recognizes that they derive benefits from being volunteers, including learning new skills, enhancing career opportunities and making professional and social contacts. Volunteers contribute of their own free will and should not be coerced or pressured in any way to volunteer.
U-M volunteers are expected to comply with all applicable laws and U-M rules and regulations, as well as comply with the rules and regulations of the specific department for which they are volunteering. It is the responsibility of the individual unit to ensure that volunteers are aware of the unit’s rules and regulations and comply with them.
U-M departments should keep records of volunteer names, dates of services, and services performed, and should issue letters describing the volunteer service prior to the volunteer’s start date with the unit. These records (volunteer letter, name, dates of service and services performed) should be maintained for a minimum of three (3) years after their volunteer service ends. A sample volunteer letter may be viewed at Appendix A to this FAQ.
Note: If the volunteer is performing services that would otherwise be performed by someone in a paid position, please contact your central U-M Human Resources Representative/Consultant for guidance.
Note: If the volunteer is performing services covered by a grant please contact the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (“ORSP”) grant coordinator for that grant.
Q: Who is eligible to Volunteer at U-M?
A: In general, most people can volunteer at U-M. It is recommended that volunteers be at least sixteen (16) years of age.
For volunteers under the age of eighteen (18) years there are certain restrictions on working conditions. For this information please refer to the U-M Standard Practice Guide at http://spg.umich.edu/pdf/201.20.pdf.
- U-M exempt staff, who are not covered by FLSA overtime regulations, except those in the U.S. in a non-immigrant status, are eligible to volunteer in any capacity at U-M.
- U-M non-exempt staff, who are covered by FLSA overtime regulations, may only volunteer for service that is completely unrelated to their ordinary work.
General Public: U.S. citizens and non-citizens allowed to reside permanently in the U.S. (i.e., “green card holders” or “lawful permanent residents”) over the age of eighteen (18) years who are not U-M employees have no restrictions on their volunteer efforts.
Non-U.S. citizens who are in the U.S. in a non-immigrant status, including students and those employed as exempt staff at U-M, may volunteer under the following circumstances:
- The activity is part of a defined volunteer program, or
- The activity is not part of a defined volunteer program but the primary benefit of performing the activity accrues to the volunteer AND the unit does not commonly compensate individuals for performing the activity.
The following individuals are NOT permitted to volunteer at U-M:
- Those in the U.S. in a tourist status, i.e. B-1, B-2, WB, WT status.
- Those individuals whose employment authorization has expired or has not yet begun may not volunteer in the position (or a portion thereof) he or she held or intends to hold for employment.
For questions about other immigration statuses, contact the U-M International Center at 734-764-9310 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The International Center has developed a list of visa categories commonly held by temporary visa holders at U-M. For additional information please consult the International Center web site (http://www.internationalcenter.umich.edu/immig/visacompare.pdf).
All individuals in the following categories are eligible to volunteer, subject to the limitations described above:
|F-2||Dependents of F-1 full-time students|
|J-1||Exchange visitors who could be full-time students, professors, researchers, short-term scholars, or specialists|
|J-2||Dependents of J-1 exchange visitors|
|H-1B||U-M employees in particular occupations|
|H-4||Dependents of H-1B employees|
NOTE: The International Center recommends that F-2, H-4, and J-2 dependents only volunteer for defined volunteer programs, as these are clearly delineated as not employment.
For any other questions about volunteering regarding non-U.S. citizens, contact the U-M International Center at 734-764-9310 or email@example.com.
Q: For which liabilities are volunteers covered?
A: In general, U-M provides only general liability insurance coverage for volunteers acting within the course of their duties. This coverage will pay for all amounts that U-M, or volunteer, are legally obligated to pay due to negligence that results in personal injury and/or property damage to others. Please remember, U-M expects U-M units to conduct volunteer programs in a way that minimizes risk or potential liability to U-M. There are three areas of coverage (indemnification) related to the volunteer activity:
- Liability of U-M as a result of harm to a third party through the actions of the volunteer.Example: A claim for damages by a third party may be made against U-M as a result of actions taken by volunteers while carrying out (acting within the course of) the good faith performance of their volunteer duties.
- Liability of the volunteer to third parties.Example: A claim for damages by a third party may be made against a volunteer for actions taken while carrying out their volunteer duties.
- Liability of U-M to the volunteer.
U-M is obligated to provide a safe working environment for volunteers, adhering to the same standards it has for its employees. Volunteers are not covered by workers’ compensation disability benefits. Medical treatment for injuries is covered through the volunteer’s private health insurance. Because volunteers are not covered by workers’ compensation, there is potential for legal action against U-M on the basis of our (U-M’s) negligence.
Q: What is the difference between performing work and volunteering?
A: Wage and Hour Compliance. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), all non-exempt employees must receive no less than the minimum wage for every hour worked and time and a half for every hour over forty (40) worked in a week1. There is an exception to this rule for volunteers of a public employer. The exception is applicable as long as:
- The individual receives no compensation for his/her services or is paid only expenses, reasonable benefits, or a nominal fee to perform the services for which he/she volunteered. Foreign nationals on non-immigrant visas may only accept reimbursement for actual expenses and may NOT be paid reasonable benefits or a nominal fee (as this may be considered performing services or labor for remuneration and would be considered employment);
- The individual is not coerced or pressured in any way into volunteering the services; and
- If already employed by U-M in a non-exempt position, the volunteer services are not the same type of services that the individual is employed to perform for U-M. Foreign nationals on non-immigrant visas are not allowed to ‘temporarily’ volunteer in the position for which they were employed by U-M.
Q: Are volunteers eligible for any compensation?
A: A volunteer is an individual who performs a service of her/his own free will without any remuneration. A unit may offer to reimburse volunteers for expenses such as parking, travel, or child care or reward the volunteers with an appreciation event. When reimbursing a university guest, use the Travel and Business Hosting Expense Report for travel or hosting reimbursements (the form can be found on the Procurement website). When reimbursing a university guest for non-travel/hosting business expenses, use a Payment Request form (the form can be found on the Shared Services Center website). Volunteers are considered to be freely assisting with a project or service as a personal choice and do not receive any other monetary compensation.
Foreign nationals on non-immigrant visas may only accept reimbursement for actual expenses and may NOT be paid reasonable benefits or a nominal fee.
Q: If an employing unit hires a student for the academic year, and the student runs out of Federal Work-Study for the year, can the student be required to volunteer hours for the remainder of the academic year?
A: No. A person may not be required to volunteer. If a student was paid for performing the same work, the student cannot be required to volunteer for the same position. Once the Work-Study award has been exhausted, the department has the option of keeping the student on as a paid non-Work-study employee. This is done by completing the Temporary Appointment Change form (HR37001).
Q: If a student is willing to sign an Agreement, acknowledging that he or she is expected to fulfill their commitment as a volunteer if the Federal Work Study award amount is fully utilized before the employment end date, can the student continue to work?
A: No. A person may not be required to volunteer. Federal Work-Study students may not be required to sign any agreement requiring volunteer work in the same position for which they previously benefited from being paid.
Q: May a student employee volunteer at U-M?
A: Yes, student employees may volunteer at U-M. All employees, however, are encouraged to participate in established volunteer programs. U-M non-exempt staff who are covered by FLSA overtime regulations, may only volunteer for service that is completely unrelated to their ordinary work. Student employees, therefore, may not be asked to volunteer in a formerly paid position in lieu of paid compensation.
Q: Is there anything else I should think about related to using volunteers?
A: The use of volunteers varies from unit to unit, and it is the individual’s unit’s responsibility to ensure that volunteers are aware of the unit’s rules and regulations and comply with them. Some things to consider that may or may not be applicable in every case include the following:
- Should background checks be completed?
- What training should the volunteer complete before starting their assignment?
- What physical and/or system access is appropriate? Is there a process to terminate system access when no longer needed?
Q: Whom should I call for questions I have about volunteering?
A: This FAQ was not intended to answer all possible questions. For these call the OGC at 734-764-0304. Staff at the OGC will answer your question or direct you to the appropriate office able to answer your question.
1 The FLSA also provides Hospitals the ability to utilize 8/80 scheduling provisions, which provide for overtime greater that eight (8) hours in a day or more than eighty (80) hours in a two (2)-week pay period.
To: Name of Volunteer
Address of Volunteer
Dear Name of Volunteer,
On behalf of the department of [Name of Department] I thank you for your offer to volunteer your time and energy and welcome you as a valued volunteer. We will do our best to ensure that your volunteer activities are rewarding to you and want you to know that volunteers such as yourself make a real difference to our office.
Please be advised that you will need to comply with all applicable laws and U-M rules and regulations, as well as comply with the rules and regulations of our department. Your supervisor will introduce you to the rules and regulations of our department.
We look forward to getting to know you as a valuable member of our team.
Details of your Volunteer Placement are below:
Population to be served:
Begin and end dates of service: