Use of volunteer workers by the State
9 NYCRR 141.0
In addition to employment in State service in a position in the Classified Service or the Unclassified Service, an individual serving as a volunteer may be deemed to be an “employee” of the State for certain purposes.
9 NYCRR 141.0 authorizes the use of volunteer workers by the State, declaring that it is “the policy of the State that the use of volunteer workers be consistent with the needs and requirements of sound and orderly administration of State government." 9 NYCRR 141.0 further provides that "It is also the policy of the State that the protection of workmen's compensation coverage be provided to all volunteer workers donating their services to the State.”
However, the use of volunteer workers by a State Department or agency is subject to the prior approval of the Director of the Budget. [see 9 NYCRR 141.1.]
The application submitted to the Director of the Budget for approval to accept the services of volunteers is to include the reasons why the use of volunteer workers is necessary, what will be accomplished by using volunteer workers and an estimate of the number of volunteer workers required.
Significantly, Public Officers Law §17* covers such “approved” volunteers, providing for their defense and indemnification in any civil action or proceeding “in any state or federal court arising out of any alleged act or omission which occurred or is alleged in the complaint to have occurred while the employee was acting within the scope of his [or her] public employment or duties” including actions alleging unlawful discrimination within the meaning of 42 USC 1981 and 42 USC 1983.
The duty to provide for a defense, however, is not available to the individual “where such civil action or proceeding is brought by or on behalf of the State.”
* Public Officers Law §17, in pertinent part, provides that “the term ‘employee’ shall mean … a volunteer expressly authorized to participate in a state-sponsored volunteer program …” Similarly, Public Officers Law §18, which provides for the “Defense and indemnification of officers and employees of public entities,” includes within its definition of the term “employee,” an individual serving as “a volunteer expressly authorized to participate in a publicly sponsored volunteer program.”