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Handbook of Operating Procedures


Policy Number: 159





Date Reviewed:
May 2021
Responsible Office:
Human Resources
Responsible Executive:
Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer


As a member institution of the world's largest medical center, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“University”) acknowledges and values the role of volunteers in promoting the vision and mission of the University. Because the University's hospital venues for volunteers are limited, the University utilizes the services of volunteers only in limited circumstances. Volunteers should never replace or displace paid workers, impair the employment prospects of paid workers, provide services in competition with paid workers, or perform work which would otherwise be performed by paid workers.  As such, volunteer activities are expected to be part-time and sporadic. 

This policy applies to individuals who seek to support the missions of the University in a volunteer capacity. Anyone seeking to engage the services of a volunteer must contact Human Resources.

This policy does not apply to:

  • individuals who are observers, trainees, visiting students or visiting scientists (see HOOP Policy 125 Visitors);
  • individuals who are members of officially-sanctioned University support organizations such as the Development Board and other similar organizations;
  • individuals who are enrolled as students in academic programs at the University;
  • students from other institutions of higher education who are participating as part of an officially sanctioned educational agreement; or
  • individuals who seek unpaid (without salary) faculty appointments at the University (see HOOP Policy 189 Faculty and Administrative and Professional Appointment).

Services of volunteers should be considered non-essential and non-critical to the operations of the department and should not require special technical, research, or health care skills or abilities.  Volunteers may not participate in or perform research or teaching roles and may not provide clinical care. Volunteer appointments are not appropriate for individuals who wish to receive training at the University. See HOOP 125 Visitors.

University volunteers are not considered employees for any purpose and are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Volunteers are not eligible for compensation or any University benefits and are not covered under The University of Texas System Workers' Compensation Insurance and Unemployment Compensation Insurance programs. Former volunteers who later accept employment with the University are not entitled to credit for time spent in a non-remunerative status with respect to benefit or retirement programs.  It is the policy of the University that all volunteer opportunities must be entered into without promise or expectation of compensation, future employment, or other tangible benefit. Volunteers may not be issued University property nor may they be granted any other privileges associated with being an employee. Email access may only be granted if it is required as part of the volunteer's responsibility.

While performing his or her assigned duties, a University volunteer must abide by all University policies that govern conduct and standards, safety requirements, financial responsibility and confidentiality. The University is dedicated to maintaining an environment that is safe, healthy, and compliant. Therefore, volunteers are expected to receive safety training, if appropriate to their environment. It is the responsibility of the respective department/school to ensure that these requirements are met and that volunteers are appropriately trained. Environmental Health & Safety (“EHS”) must be contacted to determine and coordinate the appropriate safety training. Volunteers should not perform any duties until appropriately trained.

All volunteers are subject to a criminal background check.  The criminal background check must include a sex offender registration check.

A volunteer's relationship to other University faculty or staff will not be a bar to a volunteer position or to other non-remunerative positions.

Individuals who have been dismissed previously for cause from employment at the University or who were not employed as the result of a criminal background check are not eligible for volunteer positions.

The University is dedicated to complying with all applicable laws regarding employment and employment eligibility for non-citizens of the United States, including those laws and regulations that may apply to those individuals serving in a volunteer capacity. Non-United States citizens who are not eligible for employment in the United States, including those awaiting approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services authorities and/or the State Department, as well as those with expired visas, may not serve as volunteers unless such activity is specifically authorized by their visa. In addition, time served as a volunteer may not be included in visa applications for purposes of showing experience and/or employment history. Contact the Office of International Affairs for clarification of immigration policies and appropriate clearance.

Note: The University of Texas Harris County Psychiatric Center (“UTHCPC”) has additional requirements for volunteers.


For specific procedures regarding selecting and engaging a volunteer, contact Human Resources.

Service of all volunteers at the University is at the pleasure of the University. The University may, at any time and for whatever reason, and at its sole discretion, terminate a volunteer's relationship with the institution.


    • Human Resources
    • 713-500-3130