Non-CWRU Employees (Independent Contractors, Volunteers, Interns, and Temporary Employees)

Title: Non-CWRU Employees (Independent Contractors, Volunteers, Interns, and Temporary Employees)
Approved by
Date Approved:
Effective Date: 06/03/2019
Responsible Official: Vice President of Human Resources and Vice President of Campus Services Administration
Responsible University Office: HR Employment Office and Procurement Office
Revision History: 01/01/1995; 01/01/2002; 01/01/2008
Related Legislation and University policies: Volunteer Waiver and Release FormTemporary Employment PolicyTemporary Employment Procedure
Review Period: 5 years
Date of Last Review
Relates to: independent contractors, volunteers, and employees of a temporary agency 
Exclusions: executive staff, senior staff, and staff

Policy Statement

Individuals who are not employees of CWRU may still perform services for or on behalf of CWRU in three (3) ways: (1) as independent contractors, (2) as volunteers, or (3) as employees of a temporary agency. Nonetheless, the university must establish uniform procedures for screening and engaging volunteers, and balance the following considerations: the desirability of utilizing volunteers’ services; the need to protect volunteers’ interests; and the need to minimize legal risk to volunteers and the university.

Independent Contractor

Independent contractors are individuals who perform services for CWRU but are self-employed or employed by another organization. The use of independent contractors allows CWRU to tap specialized expertise needed for project-specific work, recognize the contractors' desire for independence, and to save on benefit and administrative costs.

Departments and schools must obtain pre-approval from the Procurement Office before hiring an independent contractor. A department may not retain an individual as an independent contractor if the individual has been an employee of the university in the prior twelve (12) months in the same or a substantially similar position.

Departments must follow the steps outlined on the Procurement and Distribution Services Department’s independent contractor website when engaging an independent contractor and making payment into HCM People Soft.

At all times, independent contractors are responsible for adhering to the university's standards and policies while on campus.

Volunteers and Interns

Volunteers are individuals who offer their services without cost to the university for civic reasons and which are not typically performed by university employees.

Interns are individuals who meet one of the following circumstances:

  1. Are currently enrolled at CWRU or other accredited colleges, universities, community colleges, or high schools and who are engaged in experiential learning in the workplace in return for academic or course credit.
  2. Are obtaining work experience that is required for professional licensure or certification under the supervision of a licensed or certified professional (e.g., social workers, engineers, nurses, and accountants) for a period not to exceed eighteen (18) months in duration.
  3. Are engaging in experiential learning in a profession under the supervision of an appropriate university supervisor or manager for a period not to exceed eighteen (18) months in duration.

The university does not intend for volunteers to perform or displace work that is presently being performed by university employees. Volunteer arrangements may not be used to circumvent the established processes that govern standard university-authorized hires. Supervisors may not accept the services of a volunteer to fill a staff position. 

University volunteers do not have an employment relationship with the university on any grounds and are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). A volunteer is an unpaid individual who freely offers their services to the university without any expectation of receiving pay, compensation or other benefits, including future positions at the university, in order to support the activities and mission of the university and/or gain experience in specific endeavors. A volunteer is an individual who does not currently and did not previously hold a position performing services that are the same as those for which they are volunteering, does not displace a current employee, and does not provide services that are substantially similar to those performed in a paid position.

The university cannot allow unpaid volunteers to perform work, unless it meets certain parameters. For example, the education for the internship outweighs the work performed (meaning the benefit to the intern exceeds any work performed). Specific visa status can allow researchers to conduct personal research in the United States and may be unpaid when the university is not benefiting from the research being conducted. Qualified volunteers may provide services to the university for specific reasons and for limited times after they sign a Volunteer Waiver and Release Form and consent to a criminal background check. The Volunteer and Release Form shall be returned to the Employment Office at

No volunteer under the age of eighteen (18) will be able to volunteer in any position deemed hazardous by the Human Resources Department or Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) or involving exposure to hazardous materials. Supervisors who are contacted by a potential volunteer must refer the potential volunteer to the Employment Office for a determination, processing of the waiver, background check, and to schedule an orientation to the university's standards.

An unpaid volunteer or intern, or visiting scholar may not:

  • Be engaged and/or directly supervised by a relative or other individual who would be considered inappropriate under the university’s policy on nepotism.
  • Receive compensation nor be eligible to receive employment-related benefits available to regular employees such as workers’ compensation, health benefits, or the ability to file for unemployment compensation.
  • Be offered any future promise of university employment that is contrary to the university’s or regulatory equal employment opportunity or employment policies.
  • Be coerced or pressured to perform his/her duties in any fashion.
  • Perform unpaid work if the individual is otherwise employed by the university in any capacity to perform the same or similar type of duties and responsibilities.
  • Operate university-owned motor vehicles or other heavy equipment unless specific exceptions have been requested and approved by the appropriate university office and are not contrary to university risk management policies.

At all times, volunteers and interns, are responsible for adhering to the university's standards and policies while on campus.

Volunteers and Interns with Visa Status

Under federal law, individuals holding F-2, J-2 and H-4 visa statuses are prohibited from volunteering in the same departments and on similar projects as paid university employees. Individuals holding B-1 or B-2 visas are prohibited from volunteering at the university, unless they are undertaking independent research or participating in scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions, conferences, or seminars. An individual with a pending H-1B visa application to work at the university cannot serve as a volunteer. Volunteer status may not be used as a way to avoid or defer compliance with the employment eligibility requirements of federal immigration laws.

Temporary Employees

Individuals who are hired through an approved temporary agency are employees of the temporary agency, not CWRU. 

At all times, temporary employees are responsible for adhering to the university's standards and policies while on campus.