Answer from Kim, SPHR, AAM, CPIW:

Volunteer time off (VTO) is a form of paid leave that gives employees their regular compensation for hours spent in service to an approved charitable or community organization. These programs allow employers and employees to positively impact their communities. In fact, offering VTO incentivizes participation in these programs and can make a business more appealing to potential candidates—as well as customers and clients.

If you decide you want to offer this as an option for your employees, you should consider these questions:

  • How many hours will you designate as VTO? We wouldn’t recommend taking anything away from current paid leave banks.
  • How will employees request VTO? Is it part of your usual time off request process or do you want a separate process?
  • Can employees roll over unused VTO or is it a use-it-or-lose-it benefit?
  • Do you want to pre-select the organizations and activities, or can employees select their own? If employees select their own, will you approve the organization first? If so, who will be responsible for vetting the organizations, and what criteria will you use? You will not want to be discriminatory, but you will likely want the organizations to reflect your mission and values.
  • Will you track, and if so, what will you track? Tracking information beyond just the number of hours used can help you understand the causes your employees want to support, which can give you ideas for organizations you may want to support in the future.

This Q&A does not constitute legal advice and does not address state or local law.

Kim has held many Senior level HR positions including VP of HR and Administration for a California-based Workers’ Compensation TPA, Director of HR for a benefit and risk management company, and board positions with a professional insurance association. Kim spends her free time tracking down her grown sons.