Standard Practices

Volunteer Policy


Many public institutions involve volunteers directly and indirectly in the delivery of their programs and services. Many university departments and many activities on the university campus involve volunteers, including United Way, research, libraries, campus recreation, and athletics.

The university recognizes that volunteers are a valuable resource and do much to enhance university programs and activities. Similarly, the university recognizes that individuals derive significant benefits from being a volunteer, including learning new skills, enhancing career opportunities and making professional and social contacts.

Liability Exposure of Volunteers

There are three (3) areas of potential liability related to the university engaging volunteers:

  1. Liability of the Volunteer to Third Parties:

    Just like any individual, a volunteer is potentially liable for the consequences of their actions. In carrying out their volunteer duties, an individual could be sued by a third party.
  2. Liability of the university to the Volunteer:

    The university has obligations to volunteers just as it does to employees in terms of providing a safe working environment and adhering to fair recruitment, supervision, and termination practices. Unlike paid employees however, volunteers are not insured for workers compensation benefits, which means that a volunteer can sue the university should they be injured while carrying out their duties.
  3. Liability of the university because of the volunteer (vicarious liability):

    Volunteers acting on behalf of the university expose the university to potential liability, should their actions result in harm or loss to a third party.

Volunteer Risk Management

In order to manage the risks and liabilities inherent in volunteer activities, all University departments are required or recommended to follow these guidelines:

  1. All volunteers must be registered by means of a written agreement, which clarifies their duties, reporting relationship and duration of their volunteer service. This form shall also provide the volunteer information about liability and insurance matters.
  2. Departments registering volunteers are responsible for ensuring that the volunteer receives adequate training, including safety training where appropriate, for carrying out their duties.
  3. Volunteers should be at least eighteen (18) years of age. In exceptional circumstances involving low-risk activities, volunteers may be under the age of eighteen (18) but this must be arranged in advance with the Risk Management Department.
  4. If volunteers are involved in a situation which may give rise to liability (i.e., they are injured, their property is damaged, or they are involved in a situation involving injury or damage to a third party), the incident must be reported immediately to the campus Public Safety Department. The campus Public Safety Department will in turn report the incident to the Risk Management Department.
  5. Volunteers shall at all times be covered on relevant insurance policies, which the university carries.

Additional Information

Where appropriate, volunteers are to be reminded that the university does not provide insurance coverage for personal vehicles. Volunteers who will be driving their own personal vehicles are to be advised that they are responsible for providing their own insurance.

This policy does not apply to volunteers with student clubs or the Students' Union, which operate independently of the university.

Faculties, departments, research projects/work and university activities requiring volunteers please complete and sign the required volunteer forms:

The original form is to be kept on file by the originating department for a minimum of five (5) years for insurance purposes. A copy can be provided to the volunteer if they so request. In the event of an accident, the Risk Management Department will then request this form from the department.

Information for Winthrop University Volunteers

Thank you for volunteering with Winthrop University. The university recognizes that your volunteer contribution enhances the university's programs and activities and wants to ensure that your volunteer experience is safe and rewarding.

As a registered volunteer you are included on the university's general liability insurance policy. This means that while properly carrying out your volunteer responsibilities you are insured against liability claims from third parties.

Please note that the university does not insure personal vehicles or property for either employees or volunteers. Volunteers who will be driving their own personal vehicles on University business are urged to contact their insurance broker to ensure that they have adequate personal insurance.