Civil servants to get 1 day off to do volunteer work: Other firms that have implemented volunteer leave

The home-refurbishmet project at Teck Ghee Community Care Corner involved 200 Standard Chartered staff volunteers.
The home-refurbishmet project at Teck Ghee Community Care Corner involved 200 Standard Chartered staff volunteers.PHOTO: STANDARD CHARTERED BANK

SINGAPORE - From 2016, civil servants will get one day leave to volunteer at any institution of public character of their choice.

This move signals the commitment of Singapore's largest employer to building a culture of volunteering and caring.

However, the civil service is not the only company encouraging volunteerism in employees - DBS Bank was the first organisation in Singapore to implement such a system in July 2000.

Here are some stories about firms that implemented volunteer leave:

Call to firms: Make giving part of DNA

One in two employees polled is interested in taking part in company-organised volunteer activities, but only one in five said his employer held such activities in the past year.

"There is clearly a mismatch," said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, at a dialogue on corporate giving. He said employers' support is key in encouraging working adults to volunteer and he called on companies to "make giving part of the DNA of corporate Singapore".

The 2014 Employee Giving Survey, which is part of the biennial Individual Giving Survey by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), also found that only one in three employees volunteers through his employer.


Few takers for paid volunteer leave

Staff from OCBC planted 10,000 mangrove trees along the coastal shores of Karya Island, off Jarkarta, in one afternoon. PHOTO: OCBC BANK

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.

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.


Firms giving staff time off to do good

Singapore Pools staff members Jesslin Ong (left), 23, and Charmaine Chng, 40, playing at West Coast Park with children from Sunbeam Place, a shelter for youngsters, as part of their company’s corporate social responsibility programme. ST PHOTO: NURIA LING

Business planning and development manager Lee Chen Chuen takes up to three days of leave annually for volunteering activities such as building homes for needy families in Batam.

The time-off does not come from his annual leave but from the volunteer service leave granted by his employer, Standard Chartered Bank.

"Regardless of how busy we are at work, having three days of volunteering leave allows me to take some official time off to make a small but significant contribution to the community," said Mr Lee, 32.


Corporate social responsibility catches on

About 30 children, aged 4 to 13, and their parents measuring the girth of the Tembusu tree at the Singapore Botanic Gardens as part of the Young Arborist Programme, a joint community project by NParks and HSBC for schools. ST PHOTO: BRYAN VAN DER BEEK

Cement supplier Holcim has made the best from waste by developing a "green concrete" formula that eliminates the need for sand.

With the new formula, Holcim no longer has to worry about the rising price of sand due to shortages. Also, its environmentally friendly ways have helped the Swiss company fulfil its corporate social responsibility (CSR) to society.

Holcim Singapore is one of a growing number of organisations here that are acknowledging the importance of CSR - the ethical or moral way to do business.


Temasek Poly staff get 'volunteer leave'

The staff of Temasek Polytechnic can now take four half-days of "volunteer leave" a year to make a difference in the community they live in.

This is the first time a polytechnic here has introduced a scheme where paid leave will be given for volunteer work at any of the 260 welfare organisations registered with the National Council of Social Service.

Announcing the plan at the polytechnic's annual Community Day held yesterday to promote volunteer work, its principal and chief executive officer, Dr N. Varaprasad, said many people were satisfied with just making a donation and letting others do the work.


Firms already into social work


Some companies here are ahead of others when it comes to contributing to the community and encouraging their staff to do volunteer work.

For instance, KPMG, which provides accounting, tax and consulting services, holds its own community day each September, during which its offices are closed and its staff go off to help at welfare organisations.

Computer company Hewlett-Packard has a committee in place to organise community-service projects.


DBS Group gives workers 2 days for social work


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 on July 9, 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, PM Goh said that only one in 10 Singaporeans was involved in community work.