(see DO-7, § 17)
A successful volunteer program starts with a thorough and accurate volunteer service agreement, which is the foundation for the work to be performed and includes any specific requirements or conditions. The form states “...either the government or [the volunteer] may cancel this agreement at any time by notifying the other party.”
In either instance, when the volunteer’s service ends, the supervisor should evaluate the volunteer fairly, and the volunteer should be given an opportunity to evaluate the volunteer program on the basis of their experience.
Park- or Program-Initiated Termination
Volunteers are not employees and can be terminated by the NPS at any time and for any reason. Some circumstances warrant immediate termination. The NPS is not obligated to keep a volunteer who is not performing satisfactorily or if there are unresolvable conduct issues. Whenever possible, the volunteer supervisor should work with the volunteer to correct performance and behavior before moving to terminate the volunteer.
Volunteers may terminate the agreement themselves at any time. Volunteers may decide to end their services for a number of reasons, such as the completion of a specific project, a conflict with personal or family obligations, or the acquisition of a new job. If the volunteer intends to use the work experience as a means of qualifying for a particular job, they may request a letter from the supervisor verifying the type of work performed. Termination of service should be noted on the volunteer service agreement.
Officially, the only thing that needs to be done to terminate a volunteer is to have the volunteer’s supervisor or another government employee sign the termination section of the volunteer agreement. Other steps may need to be taken depending on the situation. If the volunteer is being terminated for conduct or performance issues, a termination letter should be issued explaining the reasons for termination and including a signature line for the volunteer to acknowledge receipt of the letter. The supervisor should inform their next-level supervisor as well as the park superintendent/manager of the termination.
In cases in which the volunteer may become volatile, law enforcement staff should be informed and may be asked to escort the volunteer out of the park or off federal property. If the volunteer resides in park housing, they should be given a reasonable time period in which to leave the park, usually 24 or 48 hours. For egregious conduct (e.g., felonies), however, they may be asked to leave immediately, and law enforcement should be engaged.
A note should be placed in the volunteer’s file explaining why the volunteer was terminated, and the file should be kept for at least three years.
Last updated: November 27, 2019