Main Volunteers Page

Do volunteers have insurance coverage?

Yes, authorized volunteers have both UW liability coverage and limited workers’ compensation coverage (medical payments only) for their approved duties. Volunteers are not eligible for UW health insurance benefits.

Do volunteers need background checks?

Yes, if volunteer will be working with minors or vulnerable adults, or in other security or safety sensitive roles. See UW Human Resources (requires UW NetID login) for information, including the process and cost.

A volunteer wants to work in a hazardous area or with hazardous materials. Is the volunteer covered?

Yes, but volunteers have limited workers’ compensation coverage (see above). Volunteers who have catastrophic injuries are not eligible for salary replacement, disability or death benefits under Washington workers’ compensation law. For this reason, Risk Management recommends that they not work with blood borne pathogens, radiation, biological agents exceeding Risk Group 2 of the NIH Guidelines , high-risk power tools or with any other equipment, materials or in any environment that has a high risk of catastrophic injury or death.

Can people without US work permits be volunteers?

Possibly; it depends on their visa status. Check the Department of State website.

The spouse of a new employee is a doctor and wants to volunteer while awaiting a Washington state license. Can the spouse be a volunteer?

Yes, but not as a doctor. UW does not allow professional services (e.g., healthcare, engineering, design, legal counsel) to be performed by volunteers.

Professor X is going on field trip and wants her wife to drive. Can the wife be a volunteer?

Yes, she could be, but she needs to have departmental approval as an authorized volunteer from someone other than Professor X. Also, Professor X’s personal auto insurance may be at risk. See the car insurance for University travel table for more information

I want to volunteer in the hospital. Are there any special requirements?

Yes. All UW Hospitals have special requirements for volunteers. Go to the hospital volunteer websites for more information:

My friend is training to be massage therapist and is required to give free massages as part of the training. Can my friend come to our department and volunteer to give massages?

No. This is a problem for several reasons. Using state property for private purposes could be a violation of the State Ethics Law and the UW Regents’ Statement of Ethical Principles. Giving massages would probably not be considered volunteering for UW because it doesn’t assist with the department’s regular work. Even if massage is part of the department’s regular work, UW does not allow professional services to be performed by volunteers (see above). Finally, students in training have no license and no insurance, so malpractice would not be covered.

Does the new Washington child abuse reporting law apply to volunteers?

Yes, see the Safety of Minors page for more information and training materials.