Generation 2004 requests up to 12 days for volunteering

*Update 18.01.2023, this has been extended to 2023.* *You asked, we took action! Many of you contacted us with concerns that the currently allowed 1 day of paid special leave per year for volunteering activities is wholly inadequate to help the millions of Ukrainian women and children fleeing war and seeking refuge in the EU. On 01.04.2022 it was proposed that this be made 5 days for volunteering in Ukraine. This is an improvement: it’s not the 12 we asked for, but it’s still more than the original 1! (Communication to staff – Update 53). Ms Ingestad confirmed the new limit in her response to our 22.03.2022 note (10.05.2022)*

We carefully listened to you and swiftly acted on your behalf by sending a note to DG HR 22.03.2022 stating where the current rules already allow for more than 1 day. We urged the administration to make full use of the existing legal framework and to allow up to 12 days of paid special leave per year for volunteering activities to help alleviate the suffering of the people of Ukraine. Our request is fully in line with the existing rules and procedures, and to make it happen we need just the goodwill of DG HR to change the current volunteering guidelines.

Below is our analysis of the existing legal framework.

‘2. Staff who volunteer on a work day may request one day or two half days of special leave for volunteering, as established in the Guidelines on Staff Volunteering INFO(2015)82.’

‘ii) Special leave: Up to one day of special leave per year can be granted to individual staff members who engage in voluntary work …Volunteering for up to one day per year will not be considered an activity under the ethics provisions since it is a one off exercise limited in time.’

What sorts of activities require authorisation from the Appointing Authority?

In 2004 the Commission adopted a Decision on outside activities and assignments … Under it, permission is, in principle, granted for voluntary work not giving rise to remuneration (or the like), whether charitable or not, as long as it is not likely to impair the official’s ability to work for the Commission, and takes place outside working hours.’

Article 5 Voluntary work … permission shall in principle be granted for work not giving rise to remuneration or the like, whether charitable or not, provided that it is not so onerous as to be likely to impair the official’s ability to work for the Commission, and in particular his obligations under Article 55 first indent of the Staff Regulations.

Article 11 Special leave Where unpaid activities are of benefit to the Communities [the European Union], the appointing authority may grant special leave amounting to half the number of working days involved, up to a maximum of twelve days per year.’

II. SPECIAL LEAVE II.b.4 Engaging in an unpaid outside activity

Basic principle: special leave may be taken to cover half the authorised absence during working days and official hours at the Commission, up to a maximum of 12 working days per calendar year. The conditions for granting the leave are laid down in the provisions adopted by the Commission on outside activities and assignments. No travelling time is granted.

Rules The special leave may be granted only at the specific request of the official, giving reasons. The number of working days to be considered as special leave must be explicitly specified in the appointing authority’s decision authorising an outside activity.’

Conditions The official must provide his/her leave manager with a copy of the appointing authority’s decision authorising the activity.’

Since the existing legal framework already allows up to 12 working days per calendar year for engaging in an unpaid outside activity, such as voluntary work, we asked DG HR to propose urgent amendments to the guidelines to provide staff members willing to engage in volunteering activities to support the people of Ukraine with the possibility of up to 12 days of paid special leave per year.

In addition to the legal arguments, such action would contribute to the good image of the European Commission as well as being an excellent example of how to react in times of crisis.

As usual, we would love to hear from you.

Take care and stay safe!

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