Three paid days a year off work to “volunteer” – that’s what Dave Cameron is pledging if he is elected. Companies employing more than 250 staff will be required to allow staff 3 days a year off to do volunteer work.

We think this is a wonderful sentiment and as people who give our time freely to local charities, we know the significant benefit this could have in the third sector.

But there’s the rub – giving time FREELY is surely part of the whole volunteering ethos? Whilst we’re sure being paid for the days to do this will be a great incentive for many people so let’s not knock it too hard yet, will it change the culture of society towards one where people willingly give more time and effort to those less fortunate than themselves? We’re not so sure….

And another sticking point we can see is that what many charities and community projects need is consistency in volunteering – someone who turns up week in and week out to help with stuff that really needs to be done.

Short term projects to build a garden or redecorate a town hall are fantastic of course, and have a great feel good factor for those volunteers who get it done. But what is often needed are day to day volunteers to walk dogs, listen to distressed family members, make the tea, serve the soup, play with the kids, do the book keeping, and deliver the leaflets….

And the cost to UK plc of this new Dave initiative? £24billion!! Many companies already allow staff to do volunteer work in lots of different ways, they also have fantastic initiatives in their Corporate Social Responsibility plans – could this potential additional cost put a nail in the coffin of those more innovative approaches? We hope not but we are cynical old birds so we suspect it may.

So is this a great idea or another election sound bite that hasn’t been fully thought through?


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