NTU staff donate close to $14m worth of unused leave

More than 1,900 faculty members and staff at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have donated a record $13.68 million worth of unused leave to various funds for student aid and school advancement.

This marks an increase of more than 33 per cent from last year's donation of $10.25 million.

NTU employees gave a total of 27,593 days of unused leave this year, up from 20,145 days last year, according to a statement by the university yesterday.

This is the second year that NTU's Leave Redemption and Donation Exercise has taken place. It began last year to allow employees to donate their unused vacation leave, with the money going to an NTU fund of their choice.

University staff donate the monetary value of their unused leave based on individual salary rates, said NTU.

An average of 14 days of leave was pledged by 1,978 faculty members and staff.

Of the $13.68 million raised this year, $4.17 million was channelled to the NTU Priorities Fund.

The fund targets urgent needs identified by the university's leadership. Launched in April last year as part of the university's Covid-19 relief package, it has provided financial support for NTU students from Singapore and abroad who are affected by the pandemic and have no other avenue to seek help.

To date, 1,425 students have received financial assistance of over $2 million from the university's Covid-19 relief package, said NTU.

Professor Thambipillai Srikanthan, executive director of the Cyber Security Research Centre at NTU, is among 900 employees who donated a total of 30 days of leave each - the maximum number of days allowed in the exercise.

He said that giving up 30 of his 42 days of leave this year was a small way to pitch in, and that he has seen how the funds have been used to support students, such as by providing transport fees.

Singapore Human Resources Institute president Low Peck Kem said such schemes amount to a win-win situation for companies with regard to employee engagement - they constitute good corporate social responsibility activities and benefit those in need.

Whether other companies should follow suit would depend on what they aim to achieve, she said, noting that some firms might seek to understand why employees have a high proportion of unused leave and encourage them to use it up, instead of allowing them to donate it.

She added: "The annual leave entitlement serves to ensure that employees have a fair share of 'off' time to revitalise and take a break."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2021, with the headline 'NTU staff donate close to $14m worth of unused leave'. Subscribe