Volunteer Criteria

Who is a Volunteer?

A volunteer is a person appointed to perform official University duties without compensation or remuneration.  The volunteer performs activities at the request of, for the benefit of, and under the supervision of, the University. The services or activities that are performed are of the kind typically associated with volunteer work. The volunteer willingly provides volunteer service without any promise, expectation, or contemplation of payment or remuneration of any kind; in other words, the volunteer does not receive any benefit from the University. No regular employees have been displaced to accommodate the volunteer.

Do not unwittingly turn University volunteers into employees.  If anything of value is given to a volunteer because of the duties he or she performs, he or she may become your employee under various laws. The volunteer may then automatically be covered by Workers' Compensation insurance at the University's or Department's expense. This may also present a liability for minimum wage payment, federal withholding, and other costs. Reimbursing actual expenses incurred in a volunteer's service is not remuneration.

When an Employee, including Student Employee, can be a Volunteer

As cited by the Bureau of Labor and Industries, Oregon state law defines “employed” to be anytime an employee is “suffered or permitted to work”. In order for an employee to qualify as a volunteer, these four criteria must be met:

  • The work must be at the employee´s initiative.
  • The work must be outside normal or regular work hours.
  • The employee must be performing a religious, charitable or other community service without contemplation of payment.
  • The employee must be performing a task outside of the regular job functions performed for the same employer.

University employers and supervisors are prohibited from accepting volunteer hours from a paid employee, including a student employee, except in very unique situations and under very narrow circumstances. 

An employer or supervisor cannot request, suggest, coerce or otherwise solicit an employee to perform volunteer work.  Nor can an employee receive any real or implied, present or future reward or penalty for volunteering or not volunteering to perform work.  Additionally, an employee may not receive any promise, expectation or receipt of compensation, grades, enrollment in classes, promise of participation in any activity, or any future employment as a result of volunteer hours. 

Volunteer hours cannot be treated as a pre-requisite to anything, including an offer of employment.

If you have questions or concerns, contact Insurance and Risk Management Services at [email protected].