University Volunteer Service Policy
Volunteer Service Program Application And Background Screen Process
The purpose of the Volunteer Service Program at Nova Southeastern University is to enhance the learning environment, enrich the student experience and engage members of the community. This policy enables the University to accept community members for volunteer service subject to policy and procedures designed to reduce the risk of volunteer activities, protect the interests of the University and its volunteers, serve the needs of the community, and ensure that the relationship between the University and its volunteers is clearly established and understood.
All departments of the University are covered by this policy and anyone who engages volunteers on behalf of the University is obligated to read, understand, and abide by its terms. For purposes of this policy, the term “department” shall mean all University colleges, schools, centers, departments or units and all employees of these respective “departments”.
Responsibilities of a University Volunteer
University Volunteers are required to comply with applicable University policies, procedures and external regulations governing their actions, including but not limited to those relating to ethical behavior, standards of conduct, safety, confidentiality, protected health information, computer use, financial responsibility, workplace harassment and substance abuse.
Definition of a University Volunteer
Who Is A University Volunteer: University Volunteers are uncompensated individuals who perform services directly related to the business of the University for his/her own benefit and in support of his/her humanitarian, charitable or public service ethos or to gain experience in specific endeavors. To qualify as a University Volunteer, an individual must be willing to provide service according to the terms of this policy and in compliance with its supporting procedures.
An individual who provides services as a member of an entity that is related to but is not a part of the University, such as an alumni association, will not be considered a University Volunteer. Important Note: A department should contact the University’s Office of Human Resources with any questions relating to the application of this policy to a specific volunteer activity or individual.
University Volunteers are not considered University employees for any purpose; may not represent themselves as employees; are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act; are not otherwise eligible for compensation (other than the reimbursement of approved expenses as specified in Section: Permitted Payments, below); and are not eligible for any employee benefits.
Volunteer Service Authorization, Reauthorization and Termination
Successful completion of the Volunteer Service Program application process and authorization by the University’s Office of Human Resources permits an individual to volunteer at the University for an initial one year period. During this time, an individual may participate in volunteer activity(ies) subject to the needs and requirements of the department and as permitted by his/her authorization An individual may renew his/her volunteer eligibility for successive one year period(s) by resubmitting updated application, consent (if applicable) and background check forms accompanied by the department’s updated description of the volunteer assignment for review and approval by the University’s Office of Human Resources.
Individuals are authorized for specific volunteer activities only. In the event a volunteer wishes to serve a different department in new activities, the department is required to seek authorization from the University’s Office of Human Resources for the volunteer’s new placement.
An individual’s status as an authorized University Volunteer may be terminated at any time at the sole discretion of the University and without prior notice. Similarly, a volunteer may end his/her volunteer service at any time simply by informing the University of his/her decision to resign.
Volunteer Activities NOT Covered by the Volunteer Service Policy
Specifically excluded from coverage under this policy are activities considered to be “low risk”. Individuals are permitted to engage in these types of activities without completion of the required forms (University Volunteer Application, University Volunteer Service Agreement & Release Form) or background screen. Individuals under 18 years of age must have a Parental Consent Form and Release completed by their parent or legal guardian for each volunteer activity in which the minor participates.
Examples of volunteer service activities generally considered to be “low-risk” include service as:
- Public speakers who lend their expertise on a one-time or limited basis such as guest speakers or lecturers;
- University trustees, advisory board or governing board members such as with the Ambassadors Board, Entrepreneurs Council, Museum of Art*;
- Members of search, dissertation or alumni committees;
- Special event volunteers for events such as commencement, homecoming, orientation, phone-a-thons and fundraising walks; or
- Volunteers at health fairs, health expos or community wellness events.
*These bodies may have special membership requirements for their board members that are not governed by this policy.
A department should contact the University’s Office of Human Resources with any questions regarding the application of this policy to a particular activity. To be considered a “low risk” activity, a department’s request must be submitted to and approved by the University’s Office of Human Resources prior to an individual’s commencement of volunteer service.
Types of Activity for which an Individual May NEVER Volunteer
Individuals are strictly prohibited from engaging in any of the following activities as a volunteer:
- Working with infectious or potentially infectious agents including human blood, animals or insects in a laboratory or clinical setting,
- Working with or exposure to hazardous materials,
- Operating heavy equipment or machinery, including vehicles**
**A volunteer who is at least 18 years of age and has a valid state issued driver’s license may drive a golf cart on University grounds.
- Working with hazardous equipment (e.g. chainsaws, welding equipment) including hazardous stored energy (e.g. steam, electricity, hydraulics),
- Serving in any capacity aboard a University’s research vessel,
- Entering into any contract or agreement on behalf of the University and/or representing him/herself as an NSU employee,
- Any activity considered inappropriate for a University employee and
- Any activity which displaces a University employee.
Note: approval as a University Volunteer does not authorize an individual to become a human research subject volunteer.
Who May Volunteer
Any person (including current students, alumni, University retirees and community members) may provide volunteer service to the University subject to the following restrictions.
* In all instances, approval of a volunteer is subject to review and authorization by the University’s Office of Human Resources to determine the appropriateness of the volunteer service in relation to the age and abilities of the volunteer, the risk of the activity and the skill level required.
Volunteer Under Age 16:
- An individual under sixteen years old may become a University Volunteer only as part of an approved school program pursuant to a written agreement between the University and the school and after submission of the University Volunteer Service Application, University Volunteer Service Agreement & Release and the Parental Consent Form completed by his/her parent or legal guardian.
Volunteer Age 16 or 17:
- An individual sixteen or seventeen years old may become a University Volunteer only after submission of the University Volunteer Application, the University Volunteer Service Agreement & Release and the Parental Consent Form completed by his/her parent or legal guardian.
Volunteer 18 Years or Older:
- An individual eighteen years old or older may become a University Volunteer only after submission of the University Volunteer Application, University Volunteer Service Agreement & Release Form and successful completion of a background screen.
Restrictions for Current University Employees: A current employee may not volunteer at the University in any capacity in which he/she is employed at the University, or in any activity that is substantially similar or related to the employee’s regular work activities at the University. Regardless of his/her job classification, a current employee may volunteer for special events (e.g., commencement, United Way, phone-a-thons, fundraising walks).
Note: It is important that a department determine beforehand that the time spent by a volunteer (whether an employee or non-employee) will not be considered compensable “hours worked” under the Fair Labor Standard Act. A department should contact the University’s Office of Human Resources with any questions regarding the compensability of an individual’s volunteer service.
Volunteers May NOT Replace Employees: University Volunteers may not replace current employee positions or impair the employment of a University employee. An individual serving as a volunteer may not perform functions traditionally handled by a University employee and may not provide services that are substantially the same as those provided by an employee in a paid position. Departments are prohibited from authorizing or allowing a volunteer to perform such functions or provide such services.
Volunteers May NOT Provide Healthcare Services: A volunteer is not permitted to provide healthcare services, including taking part in any activities that are in whole or in part associated with patient care. Volunteers are strictly limited to observation of patient care provided proper patient consent is obtained in accordance with the University’s HIPAA policies and procedures. A department utilizing a volunteer may not bill, directly or indirectly, a patient and/or any third party payor, including a commercial health plan and/or federal healthcare program, for services rendered, in whole or in part, by a University volunteer. University employees are prohibited from billing a third party payor for a volunteer’s services using their own or another University employee’s name, license number and/or provider number.
Permitted Payments to Volunteers
Payment of compensation or promise of compensation to volunteers for services rendered is not permitted. However, at its discretion, a department may reimburse a volunteer for actual and reasonable expenses arising from the performance of volunteer services following standard University reimbursement procedures.
The University may allow an honorarium to be awarded to a volunteer provided the value of the honorarium is not related to the performance of volunteer services with the University. An honorarium is not a payment for services, but rather an award intended to confer distinction and symbolize the University’s appreciation and esteem for the volunteer.
Honorarium payments may be subject to taxation by the Internal Revenue Service. Therefore, in order to issue an honorarium payment, the recipient must furnish a completed Form W-9. If the recipient is a non-resident alien, the Form W-8BEN is required, and a mandatory withholding may be required at the time of payment. The University does not provide tax advice on personal income tax matters. Honorarium recipients are advised to seek professional tax advice for any questions they may have pertaining to their specific circumstances.
Volunteer Service Program Application and Background Screen Process
Prior to the commencement of volunteer service, an individual must successfully complete the Volunteer Service Program application and background screen process and be authorized for volunteer service by the University’s Office of Human Resources.
The University retains sole discretion to determine an individual’s fitness for service as a volunteer and to approve/disapprove an individual’s application for volunteer service. The University’s determination shall be final and is not appealable in any forum or for any reason.
An individual’s authorization as a University Volunteer is based upon a review of information provided in the application and background screen process in relation to the risk of the activity and skill level required. The application process includes the following requirements:
Volunteer Activities Approved as "Low Risk" by OHR
The activity must be approved as “low risk” by the Office of Human Resources prior to any individual’s commencement of volunteer service. If approved as low risk:
- No application forms required.
- Individuals under 18 years of age must have a Parental Consent Form and Release completed by their parent or legal guardian for each volunteer service activity in which the minor participates.
All Other Volunteer Service Activities
Volunteer Under Age 16
- University Volunteer Service Application,
- University Volunteer Service Agreement & Release,
- Parental Consent Form completed by his/her parent or legal guardian for each volunteer service activity in which the minor participates and
- A written agreement between the University and the individual's school noting that the volunteer service is part of an approved school program (e.g. service learning, career exploration, etc.).
- Note: Any individual supervising a minor in the volunteer activity will be required to undergo a Level 2 background screening.
Volunteer Age 16 or 17
Volunteer 18 Years or Older
Applicant Background Screens
Individuals seeking to become University volunteers are required to successfully complete a background screen as part of their application process. The background screen shall include a review by the University’s Office of Human Resources of the individual’s completed Volunteer Service Application, Affidavit of Good Moral Character and Criminal Conviction Screening Form. Based on nature of the volunteer service activity and review of the background screen, additional background information may be required including but not limited to a driving abstract and/or presentation of other relevant credentials or documentation. The cost of the background screen will be charged to the college/center hosting the volunteer activity.
Special Requirements for Volunteers Having Contact with Minors, the Elderly or Persons with Disabilities:
Any individual whose volunteer service involves supervised or unsupervised contact with persons under the age of 18 years, the elderly or persons with disabilities will be required to undergo a criminal conviction background check. This requirement is applicable to all volunteers at the Mailman Segal Center for Human Development, University School, the Alvin Sherman Library, and any other volunteer in any University department having contact with minors, the elderly and persons with disabilities including summer camps, single day outings and field trips. A Level 1 screening is required for all such volunteers participating in activities supervised by NSU faculty or staff member. A Level 2 screening is required for volunteers participating in activities not supervised by an NSU faculty or staff member or where no NSU faculty or staff member is present, e.g. overnight field trips, special event chaperones, coaches and tutors. All volunteers must successfully complete the background screening (Level 1 or Level 2) on an annual basis and more frequently if requested by the University in its sole discretion.
Level 1 Screening
A Level 1 screening consists of:
- social security number search verifying the individual’s identity,
- Florida Statewide Criminal Search, and
- sexual offender and predator registry search confirming that the individual is not listed as a sexual predator.
Successful completion of Level 1 screening qualifies an individual to participate in authorized volunteer activities involving minors, elderly and persons with disabilities under the direct supervision of an NSU staff member who has successfully completed a Level 2 background screening.
Level 2 Screening
A Level 2 screening consists of:
- successful completion of Level I screening requirements and
- criminal record search of national (FBI), state of Florida (FDLE) and local (FDLE) fingerprint data bases and a review of the results thereof.
Successful completion of Level 2 screening qualifies an individual to participate in authorized volunteer activities involving minors, elderly and person with disabilities, where the activities are not supervised by an NSU faculty or staff member or where no NSU faculty or staff member is present, e.g. overnight field trips, special event chaperones, coaches and tutors.