The Government intends to give all public sector employees three days’ leave in order to carry out volunteering activities, in addition to their existing entitlement to annual leave under the Working Time Regulations 1998 Employees will have to be paid the normal pay for taking this time off, which they can take either as individual days or in one block. The precise scope of this new right is yet to be divulged by the Government but it is likely that colleges will be able to set the parameters around an employee’s right to take leave. Issues such as the potential option to pro-rata the 3 day entitlement for part time employees, and what happens when an employee joins the college part way through the year are yet to be determined. Many large employers already have a volunteering policy and, when more details on the new statutory right are known on, these policies will need to be reviewed to ensure compliance with the legal minimums. If a college already had a volunteering policy, it would be worth having a look now to see if it already offers at least 3 paid days’ leave. If not, it is not currently a problem but when the law is changed, the policy will need to be too. If you do not have a volunteering or charity work policy already, consider now which charity or charities you would like to support – it is likely that colleges will be able to designate a particular charity to whom all employees who chose to take volunteering days must offer their services. Affiliations with charities are an important element for any organisation with a strong corporate social responsibility ethic. It is expected that a Government consultation on the introduction of paid volunteering leave will be held in 2017, meaning that, if the plans are to go ahead, it will likely be October 2017 at the earliest before the new right comes in. What does this mean for me?
- Where your organisation meets the criteria, start thinking now about how you will operate your volunteering leave policy;
- Employees will need to be paid as normal for these days off
- You will be able to control when the leave is taken