SINGAPORE - From 2016, civil servants will be able to take one day of volunteer leave per year to volunteer at any institution of public character of their choice.
The one-day leave given for such volunteer work is part of their unrecorded leave, which is capped at 14 days a year and typically used for approved reasons such as parental care and marriage.
The move is meant to encourage civil servants to volunteer even more, beyond existing programmes led by their respective agencies.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, the minister in charge of the civil service, made the announcement on Thursday at the opening of the Public Service Festival exhibition which recognises the work of public servants.
"Beyond the daily work of public officers, the public service will also encourage a culture of volunteerism and caring among our public officers," said Mr Teo.
The Public Service will also adopt a total of at least 50 charities in 2016, in a push to promote volunteerism in all public sector agencies.
A senior officer in each ministry will be appointed to champion and sustain volunteerism among officers in the ministry and its statutory boards.
In a separate release, head of civil service Peter Ong said a culture of volunteerism is essential to fostering a caring and cohesive society in Singapore.
"The public service is playing our part by supporting and encouraging more public officers to volunteer," he said, adding that the adoption of charities encourages sustained commitment among public officers, who can build meaningful relationships with the beneficiaries of their adopted charities.
Mr Teo also said the public service must continue to be caring, coordinated and connected.
A well-coordinated public service is needed to develop and deliver policies and programmed well, said Mr Teo. He cited the Municipal Services Office and the Strategy Group in the Prime Minister's Office as examples of coordination between agencies.
The public service should also stay connected with Singaporeans so it can better understand their concerns and work with them to improve lives, he added.
The Public Service Festival is a three-day exhibition held at Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre Hall 403 on Thursday to Saturday, on the Public Service over the past 50 years and the future of Singapore. October is Public Service Month.
Mr Teo also launched a two-volume book-set titled "Heart of Public Service", featuring 50 public officers who have been part of key milestones in Singapore's history.
He also presented awards to more than 300 public officers and agencies in recognition of their service.
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin said in a Facebook post on Thursday that the move to give civil servants one day of volunteer leave per year is a "good step forward", and that the civil service should walk the talk.