Volunteer Policy

Departments who wish to utilize volunteer services from students must adhere to University of Maine and Federal regulations.  The Office of Human Resources has established policies and procedures that departments should follow when considering the use of volunteer services.

Human Resources Policy Regarding the Use of Volunteers

As a public agency, UM has more latitude in the use of volunteers than do private businesses.  However, there are a number of criteria to be aware of in deciding whether accepting volunteer help is appropriate in a given situation.

A. A private individual (i.e., not a UM employee) may volunteer and we may accept his/her services as long as the following three conditions are met:

1. Services are performed for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons.

2. There is no expectation or receipt of compensation (Note: Volunteers may be reimbursed for certain limited expenses and/or paid nominal fees.  This could include such things as out of pocket expenses incurred during volunteering, such as meals and transportation.  Please check with our office first if anything of this nature is contemplated, since there are a number of factors to consider in determining whether an amount is “nominal”).

3. There must be no real or perceived coercion to volunteer.  There must not be any manipulation or abuse of minimum wage or overtime requirements by such coercion.  The services be offered freely and without pressure, direct or implied.

B. A UM employee may volunteer to work at UM if he/she meets the conditions above as well as the following:

1. The volunteer position must be substantially different from his/her paid work.   Individuals may not volunteer to do what they are otherwise paid for.  The volunteer service may not be closely related to actual duties performed by or responsibilities assigned to the employee.  (Note:  Please check with our office for clarification in any specific instance if there is any doubt as to whether the work is “substantially different”).

2. Student workers, both work-study and department-funded, are also covered by this provision. The concept of “once paid, always paid” applies if the work is similar to that performed as a paid student worked. Students as well as UM employees may not volunteer to do what they are otherwise paid for.

Please also note the following:

  • If you are contacted by a third party agency asking to place a disabled volunteer with you (as opposed to being contacted directly by a volunteer with a disability), please contact our office before proceeding further.
  • Provide the same screening of prospective volunteers that you would of an employee performing similar work.  If the nature of the work calls for things such as a background check or a post offer physical exam when hiring a regular employee, do the same for volunteers.
  • Volunteers working at UM are covered under our general liability policy.  Proper applicant screening and safety training will help reduce the likelihood of claims.   Special diligence should be exercised where volunteers could cause damage to property, transmit communicable diseases, or cause litigation against the University.
  • Departments are responsible for obtaining and paying for parking stickers for volunteers.  To obtain, send Public Safety a photocopy of the car registration, a completed form (Parking Decal Registration), and a signed IDO form.
  • Departments should complete the attached form on all volunteers and retain on file as evidence of compliance with the legal distinction between “employee” and “volunteer”.

Please click here for HR’s full Volunteer Policy, Volunteer Statement, and Volunteer Release and Waiver of Liability Form.