Volunteer Guideline

Volunteers and Unpaid Internships at the University of Waterloo

Volunteers and Interns make a valuable contribution to the University, and in return get exposure and experience in a variety of settings to gain worthwhile skills. The University appreciates all volunteers, and will ensure that volunteer experiences are rewarding and safe.  

Definition:  Individuals who, with or without special training, provide support to the University without payment and without any expectation of any kind of compensation outside of any academic or experiential learning program.   Interns must not include students completing a practicum tied to academic requirements.

FOR NON-CANADIAN/NON-PERMANENT RESIDENTS: Many activities that do not provide financial remuneration (wages) are considered work by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and require a Work Permit and proper admission documents. Insurance coverage may also be impacted. It is important to be mindful of these work restrictions before undertaking or offering any activities or volunteer experiences.

This guideline is designed to assist with one-to-one volunteer/internship opportunities in workplace settings. For general volunteering through Faculties or Federation of Students (FEDS), for example special events, open houses or community projects, please visit the WUSA volunteer page.

Departmental Responsibilities

Prior to Engaging a Volunteer/Intern, departments must refer to the Employment Standards publication. There are very restrictive conditions for volunteers who receive training but no pay. If the University of Waterloo provides a volunteer/intern with training in skills that are used by the University of Waterloo’s employees, the volunteer/intern will generally also be considered to be an employee for purposes of the Employment Standards Act (ESA) unless all of the conditions below are met:

  1. The training is similar to what is provided by vocational school.
  2. The training is for the benefit of the volunteer. The individual receives some benefit from the training, such as new knowledge or skills.
  3. The University of Waterloo derives little, if any, benefit from the activity of the volunteer while they are being trained.
  4. The volunteer training does not replace someone else's job.
  5. The employer isn't promising the volunteer a job at the end of the training.
  6. The volunteer has been told that they will not be paid for their time.

Volunteer/intern opportunities aid in gaining experience and knowledge that could support future education or employment opportunities.  This relationship is not intended to provide special treatment or opportunities for education or employment beyond the end of the agreement. 

Engaging a Volunteer/Intern

  1. The individual engaging the Volunteer should review and ensure the conditions above are met.
  2. Ensure that the Volunteer is eligible to work in Canada. This includes a valid Social Insurance Number and valid work/study permit.  Copies should be attached to the signed General Volunteer Agreement.   Please refer to the immigration information on the WatPort website for additional information. 
  3. Complete the General Volunteer Agreement form (link below) and submit to the departmental Administrative Officer/Department Chair or Hiring Manager (depending on the role) for authorization and confirmation that the duties fall under the definition of Volunteer.  

In cases where all of the conditions are not met, the volunteer/intern will be deemed an employee and the appropriate casual pay or temporary authorization form must be completed and sent to payroll for processing and filing.  

Volunteer RegistrationComplete the General Volunteer Agreement form for each volunteer before they engage in an activity.  The Volunteer agreement must be signed by the volunteer and retained in the department for 1 year after the termination of the volunteer agreement as per the retention rules. 

General Volunteer Agreement

General Volunteer Agreement (fillable pdf, electronic signature)

Health and SafetyPrior to the start of the volunteer/intern activity, ensure that the Volunteer/intern is provided with the applicable safety information, training and Personal Protective Equipment required.  Volunteers must be supervised at all times. It is responsibility of the supervisor to ensure training has been completed. 

Access to Online Training and Training Records: Volunteers are not tracked using Workday or the online safety training lookup tools. A WatIAM account only grants access to online training. Volunteers must take a screenshot of the completion page at the end of the training module and provide a copy to their supervisor.  

When a volunteer does not have an active WatIAM account (as an employee, retiree, student, or alumni), the department must request an account by emailing rt@rt.uwaterloo.ca and provide the following information:

  • Volunteers full name
  • Email address
  • A request for a volunteer account with access to complete training on LEARN

The volunteer must complete the required training using this account. If the volunteer is a UW student the sponsoring department can confirm completion of training through the Safety Office training record lookup tools.

In case of InjuryIf a volunteer/intern is injured during their Volunteer activities, complete an Injury/Incident Report and submit it to the Safety Office within 24 hours.