Home » Volunteer Time Off Policy: What Your Company Needs to Know
Did you know that 1 in 4 U.S. companies and nonprofits nationwide offer volunteer time off (VTO)? VTO is an emerging trend that benefits employers, employees, and the communities they serve. Volunteer time off not only empowers employees but also makes good business sense.
To support your VTO program, you’ll need to implement a volunteer time off policy. Learn how to write a no-frills VTO policy that communicates the why and how of volunteer time off.
Before we dig into the volunteer time off policy, let’s answer a few essential questions about the topic:
Volunteer time off (VTO) is an employer-sponsored benefit for employees who want to volunteer in their communities. Where VTO is offered, employees are granted paid time off to participate in approved volunteering activities.
Participating employers typically grant between 8 and 40 hours of volunteer time off per year and compensate this time with an hourly rate equivalent to the employee’s typical salary.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) allows companies to boost their image and garner loyalty among consumers and employees alike. And while CSR is a multi-faceted strategy for bettering the workplace and the community in which they operate, corporate volunteerism is one component of CSR that mobilizes a company’s biggest asset: its employees.
Corporate volunteer programs allow employers and employees to positively impact their communities, and volunteer time off incentivizes participation in these programs. In fact, offering VTO can make a business more appealing to potential candidates—as well as customers and clients.
Volunteer time off not only helps attract top talent and gain a competitive advantage, but it also aids employee retention. 60% of millennials (which now make up a majority of the workforce) report choosing and remaining with a company because they feel a sense of purpose there. Moreover, 70% of millennials volunteer at least once per year. In short? VTO just makes good business sense.
What should companies consider when implementing VTO? Here are a few best practices:
A volunteer time off policy provides context for your employee volunteer program and communicates expectations and procedures for getting involved and getting paid.
The policy is usually provided digitally and can exist either on your website or in a PDF file; electronic policies make it easy to distribute and reference.
Keep reading for our volunteer time off policy templates and examples.
Now that you’ve established a plan for volunteer time off, you’ll need to communicate this plan to employees. You can use the following volunteer time off policy template to structure the document:
Begin by introducing your employee volunteer program. Include the program’s mission statement and goals and provide resources for learning more about your company’s CSR promises. Then, briefly discuss the intent behind providing employees with volunteer time off.
Outline the basic parameters and policies regarding the extent of possible volunteer time off offered. In this section, you’ll want to address the following questions:
Discuss your company’s policies on volunteer time off eligibility. Who is eligible for VTO? Are part-time employees eligible for VTO? If so, are they entitled to the same number of hours?
You may also want to outline any conditions for ineligibility in this section. For example, employees may be ineligible for VTO if they are on a Performance Improvement Plan.
Employees should know which causes, organizations, projects, and activities qualify for VTO. So, you’ll need to provide a list of approved organizations and participating community partners.
In addition, list the types of volunteering activities that are eligible for VTO. For example, do expect employees to volunteer at pre-selected events throughout the year. Are volunteers encouraged to offer pro bono or skills-based services? Alternatively, you may require employees to participate in opportunities that differ from their typical work responsibilities.
If employees can select nonprofits or volunteer opportunities themselves, outline criteria for appropriate volunteer activities and the steps to getting these activities approved. Should these activities align with your company’s mission or the employee’s personal values?
Additionally, we recommend you provide a general statement about how VTO cannot be used to support organizations or activities that participate in discriminatory practices. Your statement may read something like this:
“Volunteer Time Off may not be used for organizations that discriminate based on race, age, gender, sexuality, religious creed, veteran status, marital status, national origin or ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition or genetic information, or political affiliation.”
Examples of Appropriate Uses of VTO
If you’re allowing volunteers to choose the organizations and activities for which they will volunteer, it can be helpful to list examples of appropriate use for VTO, such as:
Examples of Inappropriate Uses of VTO
It may be helpful to provide examples of inappropriate uses of VTO, such as:
Next, discuss the VTO application process. List the steps for submitting a VTO request form. To whom should employees submit their application or request? Who approves the request? How much notice do applicants need to provide?
Some nonprofits will require qualifying documentation, like licenses and waivers. Be sure to have a process in place for handling the collection of this information efficiently and securely. A corporate volunteer management software stores digital copies and e-signatures for the easy and safe transfer of personal data.
In addition, provide a volunteer time off request form or hyperlink to your online application process. Reference the sample volunteer time off template below:
Volunteer Time Off Request Form
You can also download a volunteer time off request form here.
In the final section of your volunteer time off policy, you’ll want to outline the steps required for tracking volunteer time and handling any reimbursement, if any.
Tracking and communicating volunteer hours is essential to measuring the impact of your VTO program. So, you’ll want a reliable system for doing so. We recommend implementing an employee volunteer management software, which not only streamlines the volunteer application and registration process, it also automates company-wide volunteer time tracking.
Whichever way you decide to track volunteer time, participants will need to know how to log their VTO hours.
If you need a little inspiration to get started, check out these volunteer time off policy examples:
Volunteer time off can lead to positive outcomes for your company, its employees, and the community. A volunteer time off policy ensures employees get the most out of your program while maximizing impact.
Author: Addison Waters
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