Caltech understands the important role volunteers play in supporting the Institute’s research and education mission. The following guidelines have been established to ensure that the relationship between volunteers and the Institute is clearly identified and understood by everyone involved.
Caltech recognizes the need to balance the desirability of volunteer service with the need to protect volunteer interests and the need to minimize risk to both the volunteer and the Institute. The following guidelines and procedures address the various issues that may arise as divisions or departments seek to engage and maintain volunteers. Note: The responsibility for proper screening and engagement of volunteers rests with the Divisions or Departments.
Unpaid Academic Appointments
Individuals who have unpaid academic appointments to the Institute are not considered volunteers when acting in that capacity, They are permitted to volunteer if they are visiting from their home institutions and do not perform services to Caltech.
Caltech Volunteer Definition
Caltech volunteers are individuals who donate their services to Caltech, freely and without pressure or coercion, for civic, charitable or humanitarian purposes without the promise, expectation or receipt of compensation. A volunteer can be paid only for reimbursement of reasonable expenses related to their volunteer activities. To qualify as a volunteer, the individual must be willing to provide services according to these guidelines. If you are unsure whether an individual’s activities would qualify as a volunteer, contact Human Resources for assistance.
Responsibilities and Rights of the University Volunteer
A Caltech volunteer is expected to abide by Institute policies and regulations that govern their actions, including but not limited to those of prohibited against discrimination and harassment, ethical behavior, confidentiality, financial responsibility safety, and substance use.
Caltech volunteers are covered under Caltech’s Workers Compensation policy. All volunteers should register with their department in order to be covered. Volunteers may be granted access to resources on campus (e.g., email, computer systems, on-campus parking, library, buildings or labs) depending on the needs and/or requirements of their assigned activities.
Who May Volunteer
Anyone, including current or retired employees, students, alumni or others may provide volunteer services to the Institute. An employee may not become a Caltech volunteer at the Institute in the same capacity in which he or she is was employed at the Institute, or which is essentially similar to the individual’s regular work at the Institute. Volunteers should not displace regular employees or duties that a paid employee would otherwise perform.
Undergraduate students from other institutions who wish to engage in research activities at Caltech are not eligible for volunteer status. Visiting undergraduate students performing research at Caltech must be enrolled in one of Caltech’s approved programs, the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program (SURF) or the Visiting Undergraduate Research program (VURP) program. Such students may volunteer at Caltech in a non-research related capacity. Foreign nationals may not volunteer unless they have an appropriate visa status as confirmed by the International Scholar’s Office. A visitor for tourism authorization (WT or B-2) does not authorize an individual to engage in the performance of volunteer services at Caltech. Minor volunteers can follow a separate guideline here: Minor Volunteer Guidelines.
Volunteer Agreement and Release
The following section of these guidelines identifies three types of volunteer service: services not requiring a Volunteer Agreement and Release or a record in Oracle; services requiring a Volunteer Agreement and a record in Oracle (if not a current employee or student); and prohibited activities (those which a volunteer must never perform). The lists that follow are not exhaustive but intended to provide guidance when considering volunteer engagement. Caution: For individuals under the age of 18, Volunteer Agreement for Minors and other forms are required, no matter the level of service.
Services Not Requiring Volunteer Agreement/No Oracle Record
The following activities require a completed Volunteer Data sheet to be retained in the Division/Department but do not require a completed Volunteer agreement or Oracle record:
- Public speaker
- Activities lasting a week or less
Services Requiring Volunteer Agreement and Disclosure and other documentation/Oracle Record
All other activities including the following require a completed Volunteer Data Sheet, Volunteer agreement, Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure agreement, Patent Agreement, and Oracle record:
- Laboratory assignment
- Office assignment
- Professional services (accountant, engineer, architect, etc.)
- Volunteering that requires travel of any kind
- Work with confidential information
- Work with minors other than Caltech students or applicants to Caltech
- Work with Caltech students
The following activities are a sample of prohibited activities. The list is not exhaustive and certain restrictions may apply, Check with the appropriate Division or Department to be sure the activity is allowed.
- Operation of Caltech vehicles or heavy equipment
- Work with controlled substances
- Work with money other than small-dollar transactions
- Entering into any contract on behalf of the Institute
- Any activity considered inappropriate for an employee
- Any Supervisory activities
Selecting and Engaging Caltech Volunteer
It is the Division or Department’s responsibility to be certain the individuals being selected as volunteers have adequate experience, qualifications and training, including requisite safety instructions for the tasks they will perform. The following procedures are suggested to ensure that your selection process is successful.
- Complete the Volunteer Data Sheet.
- Determine if an Oracle record and therefore other forms are required.
- If no agreement is required, maintain the Volunteer Data Sheet in your Division/Department (for your information and for Workers Compensation).
- If an Oracle record is needed and therefore other documents are required, have the prospective volunteer and the Division/Department complete all of the remaining forms.
- Individuals under 18 years of age may only volunteer for services appropriate to their age and skill level and with the appropriate work permit from their school. The Volunteer Agreement for Minors and Medical Consent for Minors must be completed in addition to the other forms. For minors please see the Minor Volunteer Guidelines.
- Forward completed forms to Human Resources (MC 153-84) for entry into Oracle.
- Volunteer checked in by the Division.
- Retain copies of any completed forms (and any attachments) for the period determined by Caltech data retention policies.
- Volunteer assignments can be up to two years. To extend a Volunteers assignment, you must submit updated document to Human Resources.
Note: It may not be appropriate to follow some of the steps for some Caltech volunteers. If you have questions, please contact Human Resources for guidance.
Payments to Caltech Volunteers
Payment for services by volunteers is not allowed. However, the Institute may reimburse Caltech volunteers for actual and reasonable expenses incurred in connection with their volunteer activities, following standard Caltech reimbursement guidelines.
If the volunteer services being performed require forms to be completed, complete the appropriate forms from the following list and send them to Human Resources at Mail Code 153-84 or HRinfo@caltech.edu.
Forms to send to Human Resources (MC 154-84 or HRinfo@caltech.edu)
- Volunteer Data Sheet --- The data sheet includes required personal information and a section describing the volunteer’s proposed activities (which organization, when, what kind of activities, etc). If the volunteer has not been at Caltech before, the information in this form will be used to set up a new Oracle record and a UID will be generated. If the volunteer has an Oracle record, the information will be used to update the original record. If no Oracle record is required, maintain the original in the Division/Department.
- Volunteer Agreement and Release is signed by the volunteer. It must have a specific start and end date, no longer than one year, renewable by the volunteer’s sponsor.
- Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement for Volunteers should be signed by the volunteer and the volunteer’s supervisor or Division Administrator.
- Patent Agreement
- Background Investigation Disclosure is required in the following situations:
- Other activity specific forms may be required by the Division or Department
- For minors please go to Minor Volunteer Guidelines
Volunteers who require a Caltech ID card should contact the Card Office to get an ID Card. Volunteers who have an active ID card because they are already active on campus in another capacity, such as employees or students, will not need to acquire a new ID card.