Ask a lawyer: Volunteer work


Question: Am I protected if I do volunteer nursing work?

Answer: The CNPS recognizes that nurses have valuable skills, knowledge and expertise that are an asset to their employer and to the public in general. Accordingly, some nurses may wish to volunteer to provide professional nursing services outside of the workplace setting on an unpaid basis.

CNPS professional liability protection is not contingent upon getting paid for your work, it rather focuses on the type of work that you are doing.

To be eligible for CNPS professional liability protection, the following conditions must be met: 

  1. You must be licensed to practise by your provincial or territorial professional nursing association or college

  2. You must belong to an association or College that is a member of the CNPS (or be a beneficiary of the CNPS through individual access)

  3. You must be providing professional nursing services

Some nurses choose to volunteer in a variety of capacities where their nursing services are not being relied upon (such as a sports team coach, administrative support for an organization, etc.). In those circumstances, you would not normally be eligible for CNPS protection.

Additionally, a retired nurse who chooses to work as a volunteer may or may not be eligible for assistance. As noted above, it is a condition of CNPS assistance that a registered nurse or nurse practitioner must hold a valid license to practise in one or more Canadian provinces or territories. Retired nurses must thus maintain full licensure to remain eligible for CNPS assistance. Retired nurses who chose to maintain a non-practising licence will likely not be eligible to access CNPS services.

The organization you volunteer for may also carry professional liability insurance for nurses and other staff. You may wish to consult with the organization to determine the scope and eligibility for such protection. Some organizations request that volunteer contracts be entered into prior to commencing volunteer services.

The CNPS offers pre-contractual reviews relating to the provision of volunteer professional nursing services to help you identify whether other professional liability insurance exists, as well as identify provisions or requirements that may compromise your professional or legal obligations.

To discuss your volunteer arrangement with a legal advisor, who is a lawyer, on a confidential basis, please contact CNPS at 1-800-267-3390.

 

Reviewed June 2017

 

THIS PUBLICATION IS FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY. NOTHING IN THIS PUBLICATION SHOULD BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE FROM ANY LAWYER, CONTRIBUTOR OR THE CNPS. READERS SHOULD CONSULT LEGAL COUNSEL FOR SPECIFIC ADVICE.

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