Many university departments use volunteers to augment their staff.  These individuals perform various professional and administrative functions and when performing these duties, they act as “agents” of the University, just like any paid employee.  Federal and State child labor laws apply to minors performing duties as volunteers, as it relates to age and type of work.

A “volunteer” is defined as an individual who augments an office’s current staff, performing at the direction of the University’s (supervisor) and within the scope of services listed in the MOU which support  the University’s mission to include civic, charitable, educational, research or humanitarian reasons without promise, expectation, or receipt of compensation for services rendered. The casual, non-employee who may watch the office telephone for a few minutes, or someone’s son or daughter who helps file papers for a couple hours on a weekend, is not considered a “volunteer”.

Students performing internships/externships are not volunteers.  Their activities must be documented using an Externship/Internship Agreement.

Departments utilizing minors as volunteers are required to comply with the following University Policies:

Forms and Documentation:

Utilize the Appointment MOU for Voluntary Work  as documentation of the individual’s placement in your department, to clarify the individual’s role and identify the university’s responsibilities. Individuals volunteering in Laboratories should utilize the Appointment MOU for Voluntary Work in Laboratories. (Risk Assessments will also be required when minors are volunteering in laboratories, please contact lab safety personnel at safety@gmu.edu or call 703-993-8389.)

In addition, volunteers shall complete the following:

1. Review  Mason’s Employee Alcohol and Drug Policy.

2. Review the Data Stewardship Policy and related policies.

3. Complete the Banner Administrative Systems Account Request, if applicable. (Note: this form shall be updated annually and maintained by Fiscal Services).

For short term events using volunteers (those lasting less than one week) department may utilize the Documentation on Short-Term University Volunteers Form.  This form may not be used if minors will be used as volunteers or events where minors will be participants.

-Supervisors please maintain a signed copy of the above documents for five (5) years following the end of the volunteer activity.  A copy of the MOU should be provided to Human Resources and Operational Risk Management. Additionally, a copy should accompany the completed Banner Access Request form when submitted to Fiscal Services, if applicable.


There should be no compensation, per se, for the voluntary work.  However, the volunteer should be reimbursed for any out-of-pocket expenses related to university work and may participate in departmental activities at no cost, such as attending a retreat or training.  Any gratuities should be reasonable and commensurate with the level and type of work performed.

Volunteers are covered by the university’s liability insurance for simple negligent acts and omissions when acting as agents of George Mason University (Mason) within the course and scope of their assignment.  This protection does not extend to improper conduct, the willful disregard of safety practices, or illegal activities.  If the volunteer is injured while working, the university has a $10,000 medical payment insurance policy to assist in covering the medical expenses.  Operational Risk Management (993-2599) should be notified immediately in the event of a mishap.

Note: For questions regarding the use of Foreign Nationals as volunteers please contact inttax@gmu.edu.