August President’s Message

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a message in the MVAVA newsletter and I apologize for my absences. I forget what happened in June and, in July, I was recovering from sinus surgery (good news is that I can fully breathe!).

I’m glad I was able to hear Cissy speak about some legal issues concerning volunteers. I always enjoy hearing Cissy because she is a straight-shooter – her first words at the meeting were “I’m going to make some of you mad.”  Cissy did a good job of showing the legal definition of an employee and how that sounds just like a volunteer (don’t we feel sometimes that we are!).

As a side note, Cissy talked about a landmark case involving Microsoft, who ended up being found guilty of classifying independent contractors as non-employees – there is actually a 10 factor common law test to determine if a person is an employee and a 6 factor test for pay.  Under Federal law, the overriding factor is “who has the right to control the work process.”

Cissy also spoke about the case with Sister Michael Marie versus American Red Cross – two nuns sued the American Red Cross for religious discrimination, retaliation and harassment under Ohio law. ARC had the nuns giving trainings (which they asked to give); however, the ARC didn’t have call-off procedures and they provided benefits (which was another thing to be cautious of when dealing with volunteers).

Some take-aways:

  • Put down “tasks” not “duties” on your position descriptions and list training needed
  • Have a back-up for volunteers and a call-off procedure – keep in mind, they are VOLUNTEERS, which means they are not required to come to work
  • On your handbook acknowledgement and/or application and/or position description, put “I understand and agree this volunteer position is not a means to future employment nor am I considered an employee of “x” company. I have read, understand and agree to all terms, limitations, regulations and safety requirements in the current and updated copy of my volunteer handbook.” May need to adjust a little bit depending on where you put this.
  • Be consistent
  • Don’t grant volunteers what can be constituted as benefits
  • Create a volunteer handbook (not manual) and make sure all volunteers receive one and updates
  • Don’t let paid employees “volunteer” for something that falls within their scope of duties (eg. A marketing assistant “volunteering” at an agency fund-raising event).
  • A test for unpaid interns can be found here.

I look forward to seeing a big crowd at the September 14th training provided by Alive. We are excited to provide this extraordinary training to you for free due to your membership in MVAVA.

Until then,

Cathy Guerrant
President, MVAVA

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