Special leave for volunteering: it’s one day PER YEAR!

*update 01.04.2022: it is proposed that this be made 5 days for volunteering in Ukraine. it’s not the 12 we asked for, but it’s still more than the original 1! (Communication to Commission staff – Update 53)*

Generation 2004 clarifies the options available for volunteering in response to colleagues who have reached out to us for details. As mentioned on How to help Ukraine[1], special leave is available in sysper for volunteering. That means that you can volunteer and still be paid your full wage at the end of the month: great, right?[2] Well, yes and no: there’s paperwork involved [3]. Let’s first look at the rules: special leave specifically for volunteering has always been there in sysper, it is nothing new. The time permitted is one day of special leave per year:

‘Up to one day of special leave per year can be granted to individual staff members who engage in voluntary work.’ (Guidelines on staff volunteering, 2015 (INFO(2015) 82))

The Ukraine-specific instructions update the 2015 rules, removing part of the administrative burden (naming 3 other participants), but the other paperwork remains (hierarchical approval and proof of participation) as does the one day per year limit (see step 3 in the instructions).

So, (up to) 8 hours of volunteering will generate additional work for you, your hierarchy and the organisation you assist:

‘iii. Internal requirements for ‘proof of participation’ should not place an administrative burden on the organisers and coordinators responding the disaster areas.’ (Ukraine-specific instructions)

Note that if you want to volunteer in your own time then you need permission since this is an outside activity [4].

‘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. This is without prejudice to staff engaging in regular and ongoing volunteering activities for which they need to obtain the relevant authorisation under the Commission Decision on Outside Activities.’ (Guidelines on staff volunteering, C(2013)9037)

So, yes, the option is there to volunteer, but how useful is it really?

Let us know what you think.


[1] Check out our Ukraine petition and lists of actions. All related articles can be found here.

[2] Is it still volunteering if you are paid? (Oxford English dictionary)

[3] Update 17.03.2022 thanks very much to the colleague who got in touch to show us that the paperwork is not particularly onerous: a stamp and signature on a printed form and then you scan and upload.  Alternatively an email from the NGO address can also be enough: check out the rules and  let us know how you get on!

[4] Update 17.03.2022 thanks very much to the colleague who sent us the latest Commission Decision on outside activities  ( Commission Decision C(2018) 4048 ): see Article 4 for outside activities that fall under ‘direct approval’ e.g. ‘charitable and humanitarian activities’. More info under ‘Activities for which permission is deemed to be granted‘.

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