Overview

It’s important to help your volunteers have a rewarding and productive volunteer experience. And there are a number of tools and resources available to assist you with this, such as:

  • scope of duties – a detailed, clear description of a volunteer’s role and responsibilities
  • volunteer liability protections – under the Freedom to Care Act, volunteers are now protected from liability claims if certain conditions are met
  • best practices – developing volunteers’ scope of duties, managing their liabilities, and minimizing risks for your non-profit and its volunteer roles

Fact sheet: Volunteer Liability Protection

Volunteer responsibilities

At a bare minimum, your non-profit should provide its volunteers with:

  • a scope of duties to explain their specific tasks, including:
    • a description of the work/duties they will perform
    • any authorizations, licenses, training or requirements for that work to be completed
    • where, when, how and with whom this work will happen
    • what will be out of scope for their role/duties

Note: The scope of duties can be outlined in a job description or other document, supported by an orientation, and may include supervisory support or a signed agreement between your non-profit and a volunteer.

  • the appropriate orientation and training needed to perform their duties
  • an awareness of any insurance coverage that may apply to their role
  • an awareness of any potential liability risks and how to mitigate them

Liability protections for volunteers

These protections complement and, to a large extent, rely on the scope of duties your non-profit has defined for its volunteers.

Your non-profit needs to ensure its volunteers know that – under the ‘volunteer liability protections’ in the Freedom to Care Act – they could be held personally liable if they:

  • do not act in good faith within their scope of duties
  • cause harm or damage as a result of:
    • wilful, reckless or criminal misconduct
    • gross negligence
    • operating a motor vehicle
    • being unlawfully impaired by alcohol or drugs when the harm or damage occurred

Best practices

There are several best practices below that your non-profit can use to:

  • develop volunteers’ scope of duties
  • manage volunteers’ liabilities
  • assess the risks of volunteer roles
  • manage risks to your non-profit

Disclaimer

The best practices list is not exhaustive, and there is no expectation that a non-profit must apply them all. The list is provided for your non-profit to consider when engaging its volunteers, as it’s best qualified to determine which practices may apply to the specific circumstances of its volunteers and volunteer roles.

To review the best practices

You can either:

Legal questions around liability

Use this overall, key resource to support legal questions around liability:

Getting Professional Legal Help for your Board (PDF, 371 KB)
Source: Muttart Foundation.

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