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Time off for voluntary work: an overview of rights and regulations

Volunteering is a pillar of society that is indispensable in many areas. There are a number of regulations for this.
Social sustainability
Corporate Volunteering

Time off for voluntary work: an overview of rights and regulations

Volunteering is a pillar of society that is indispensable in many areas. Whether in the voluntary fire department, the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) or as a lay assessor - voluntary work makes a significant contribution to the common good. In order to promote this commitment, both statutory regulations and individual company guidelines in Germany provide for time off for voluntary work. However, these regulations vary considerably depending on the federal state and company. This blog article provides an overview of the most important aspects of time off for voluntary work.

Legal regulations

In Germany, there is no uniform federal law that regulates leave of absence for all types of voluntary work. Instead, there are specific regulations for certain honorary positions and general laws at state level that provide for time off and, in some cases, continued payment of remuneration during absence from work.

Examples of legally regulated honorary positions:

  • Volunteer fire department and Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW): In many federal states, employers are obliged to release members of these organizations from work for the duration of deployments, training or exercises. However, the regulations on continued payment of wages vary. In some federal states, employers receive reimbursements from public funds for the period of leave.
  • Lay judges and honorary judges: People who work in the judiciary on an honorary basis are generally entitled to time off for the duration of their assignments. The regulations on continued payment of remuneration are usually clear here and provide for compensation for loss of earnings.

Regulations by federal state

The specific conditions and requirements for the leave of absence and the question of continued pay are regulated in the respective state laws. While some federal states offer generous regulations that also include full continued pay, the regulations in other federal states are more restrictive.

Company guidelines

In addition to the legal requirements, many companies have recognized how important the voluntary commitment of their employees is for society. For this reason, they offer support that goes beyond the legal requirements. These include, for example

  • Special leave for voluntary work: Some companies grant additional vacation days specifically for volunteer work.
  • Flexible working hours: To make it easier to combine work and volunteering, some employers offer flexible working time models.
  • Financial support: In individual cases, there are also financial allowances or full payment of salary during voluntary absence

Regulations in the case of corporate volunteering

In addition to the traditional forms of time off for voluntary work, corporate volunteering is becoming increasingly important. Here, companies promote the voluntary commitment of their employees by specifically supporting projects and assignments as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy. This can range from one-day activities, such as renovating facilities for disadvantaged groups, to long-term partnerships with charitable organizations.

Release from work as part of corporate volunteering

Many companies offer special leave arrangements for corporate volunteering that go beyond the legal requirements. These can range from paid days off for volunteering projects to flexible working time models that allow employees to volunteer regularly during working hours. Such programs not only strengthen the common good, but also promote team spirit and employee satisfaction by giving employees the opportunity to get involved in issues that are close to their hearts.

The specific structure of this time off varies from company to company. While some companies provide fixed quotas of days for voluntary work, others rely on a flexible approach based on individual commitment and the needs of the organizations supported.

We can report from our customers, such as eon, that they give their employees 3 days off per year for voluntary projects. At the insurer WWK, it is 2 days per year for social projects.

From 1 to 10 days' leave of absence, our customers have it all.

In some cases, employee volunteering is complemented not only by time off but also by financial support from the company. This can include direct donations to the projects in which employees participate or matching programs in which the company converts volunteer hours into financial contributions.

Conclusion

The promotion of voluntary work through time off is an important instrument for increasing the willingness to take on such tasks. However, the regulations in Germany are varied and sometimes complex. Anyone wishing to volunteer should therefore find out in good time about the specific regulations in their federal state and their employer's guidelines. The interplay of statutory regulations and voluntary services provided by companies can create a framework that makes it possible to successfully reconcile work and voluntary work.

Are you a company that is considering introducing corporate volunteering and giving employees time off to volunteer? Do you have a lot of questions or doubts? Do not hesitate to contact us. We are experts in the field of corporate volunteering, have many practical examples of successful implementations in companies and will be happy to advise you. Simply write us a message. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you take the next step towards strategic sustainability.

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