National Volunteer Week

April 09, 2018


This week is National Volunteer Week; CAPE would like to take this opportunity to encourage all of its members to consider volunteering some time towards a worthy cause.

As a public servant, you are undoubtedly already familiar with the “volunteer day” that you’re entitled to each year. But during the last rounds of collective bargaining, both ECs and TRs saw their volunteer day converted to a second personal leave day.

The original intent behind the volunteer day was to allow public servants some time each year to volunteer for a charitable or community organization of their choice – or any other activity not related to the Government of Canada Charitable Campaign. This was a duly-negotiated benefit that was part of your collective agreement. Despite what you may have heard, there was no requirement to present proof of the volunteer work. Management wasn’t required to ask about the type of work being accomplished or the organization benefiting from the volunteer’s time.

Unfortunately, the volunteer day wasn’t managed consistently across the public service. Some managers would probe employees for details before approving the leave request. Others demanded proof of volunteer work.

As a result, members often felt awkward asking for this form of leave – and justly so. Often, if a member is made to disclose where they plan to volunteer, they are invariably disclosing personal details about their identity, beliefs or politics to a manager. It’s no surprise that many members simply chose to let this use-it-or-lose-it benefit go unused each year.

This situation needed to be remedied. For this reason, during the last rounds of bargaining, the EC and TR bargaining teams agreed to convert the annual volunteer leave to a second day of personal leave. This allowed members greater freedom in how they wanted to use their time to volunteer without having to worry about possibly having to justify the leave to a manager. The current EC and TR collective agreements now provide members with two 7.5 hour-days of personal leave to use as you see fit.

While the original volunteer day is no longer labelled as such, we do encourage our members to continue using this form of leave to make a positive impact in their communities. It may be just one day, but it can make a big difference to a charitable or community organization!

To find out more information about National Volunteer Week and ways to get involved, please check out Volunteer Canada’s website.

Don’t forget: your union is also powered by volunteers. If you’d like to dedicate some time towards improving your work environment, consider volunteering for your Local or providing your expertise on one of the many CAPE sub-committees. We’d love to have you!