Few takers for paid volunteer leave

Few takers for paid volunteer leave
The home-refurbishment project at Teck Ghee Community Care Corner involved 200 Standard Chartered staff volunteers.

SINGAPORE - Paid leave for volunteer work schemes are getting more common at companies, but very few employees seem to be taking them up. And that could require a rethink by firms looking to encourage staff volunteerism.

"It's very good that more companies are offering volunteer leave as they are making corporate giving a business priority," said Mr Eugene Lim, deputy director of corporate community investment at the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC). "But some employees fear their supervisors may not support them or co-workers will not be happy taking on extra work."

Another issue is that some prefer to volunteer on weekends, which does not entitle them to the perk at some companies.

At Citi Singapore, about 100 of its 7,000 permanent staff, or less than 2 per cent, use up their one day of paid volunteer leave. Last year, when OCBC Bank started its volunteer leave scheme, the take-up rate was 4 per cent.

This year, one out of six employees at Singapore Pools have so far claimed the two days of volunteer leave available. But even this 17 per cent falls short of national volunteer rates.

According to an NVPC survey last year, 32.3 per cent of people in Singapore - one in three - volunteer for a good cause. The Straits Times contacted 10 companies which offered such leave but several, including DBS Bank and Microsoft Singapore, declined to reveal take-up rates.

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