While most organizations have some kind of paid time off policy, there’s a new type of PTO that’s on the business scene these days: volunteer time off, otherwise known as VTO.
Why on earth would an employer pay their employees while not at their desks? Well, there are quite a few reasons. First, like many of the changes affecting company culture these days, VTO policies are largely promoted by millennial employees who are quickly becoming a force in the modern workplace.
Second, just because time off spent volunteering is a newly burgeoning trend doesn’t mean it’s uncommon. Volunteering have become widely prevalent within new benefits packages. More than 62 million people volunteered through or for an organization in 2015 — the last year the Bureau of Labor Statistics had records for — at a median average of 52 hours per year.
Encouraging employees to leave the office and serve the community represents your brand in an extremely positive light within your neighborhood, your audience base, and beyond. But before you institute a VTO policy, you need to understand the goals of the program. Looking at example policies is a good place to start. But before we dive into those, let’s examine how these policies work.
How does paid time off for volunteering work?
Often these policies don’t include massive amounts of time off. In fact, it’s common to allow just one VTO day (or 8 hours to be divided up) per employee per year. Furthermore, businesses can even specify which organizations are valid for VTO use. For example, Dartmouth College requires that VTO is spent volunteering for organizations that are affiliated with the United Way.
In many ways, volunteering time off policies function similarly to PTO policies. The most common policies include a requirement to request the time off beforehand and receive approval from a manager or supervisor, tasked with approving the day off. Sticking with the Dartmouth example, their policy requires that employees fill out their Volunteer Time Off Form and submit it to their supervisor with reasonable advance notice of the proposed time off.
Volunteer paid time off policy examples
Sometimes the best way to discern which VTO policy is the best fit your business is to find inspiration through what’s already out there. Here are six examples of VTO policies that other businesses are using:
- The Entrepreneur’s Foundation of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The SVCF’s VTO template is a great example of not only how to launch a volunteer time off policy, but how to structure it and communicate that to employees. Specifically, they cover what is and is not eligible for VTO.
- Entrepreneurs for North Texas. This volunteering time off policy template is wrapped in with their guidelines on corporate and essentially kills to birds with one stone.
- The United Way. This template goes as far as actually offering a sample form for requesting VTO.
- Thomson Reuters. This VTO policy includes something unique: a Dollars for Doers program in which the company matches each employee’s hours of volunteering with a monetary donation up to $1,000.
- Community of San Mateo. While this example VTO policy is a bit complicated (it includes elements like a fact sheet and reference cards), it is thorough and highlights how specific your policy can be.
- IHS Markit. This VTO policy is another example of a thorough one, covering everything from the purpose of the program to time allocation, eligibility, recording time off, and more.