COMMUNITY SERVICE BOOST

DBS Group gives workers 2 days for social work

They can go on paid leave each year to be volunteers

EMPLOYEES of the DBS Group, which includes DBS Bank and POSBank, will be given two days of paid leave each year to allow them to perform community service.

The scheme, which applies to all 8,000 of the group's employees here, was announced yesterday, two days after Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong made a call for more Singaporeans to get involved in community service.

During the official opening of the National Volunteer Centre on Friday, the PM said that only one in 10 Singaporeans was involved in community work.

This figure was low compared with the rate of volunteerism in Japan or the United States, he observed.

Responding to his call, DBS chairman S. Dhanabalan said in a statement yesterday that Mr Goh struck a chord with his comments.

"We have good people who can help, if they have the time. It seemed a simple thing to do to grant them the time to make this happen," he said.

By just giving the employees two days each to become volunteers, the group would have contributed about 136,000 hours of volunteer time, or the equivalent of services from about 50 full-time volunteers yearly.

He said that DBS hoped that such an initiative would spur other companies to follow suit.

"The simple system we are establishing should demonstrate that it is possible for companies of virtually any size to respond in similar fashion on their own," he said.

While details of the programme are being worked out, he noted that the staff would be free to choose the welfare organisations they wanted to help.

In this way, they would give their best as they could identify with the organisations' goals.

For a start, all the DBS employees will be given a day of "community service" leave this year.

But from next year, they will get two days to be volunteers.

Said Mr Dhanabalan: "We'll no longer be able to use 'lack of time' as an excuse and this should prove a great benefit to Singapore."