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Calling All Civil Servants

Following my interview with Chris in this months Scouting Magazine I received an email from Kath who works for the Home Office and who told me that since 2001, they had extended their provision for paid special leave to encourage it’s employees to volunteer in the community as part of their Community Cohesion project.

As a result, Kath receives 5 days paid special leave which means that she does not need to use her annual leave for Summer Camp and furthermore she is guaranteed leave in the peak summer period (despite working in a role particularly busy at that time).

A group of management trainees within the Civil Service, the Emerging Talents Group within the Department of Health, have recently undertaken a report entitled ’Scouts – Volunteering in the Civil Service’ which confirmed that such support is not yet service wide and so I was delighted to hear from Kath. I would be delighted to hear of any similar experiences from other volunteers within the Civil Service, or the response you have received when asking?

We also continue to work the ET group to address some of the other hurdles to volunteering for Scouting that they identified.




By Jean Chandler
on 24/12/2009 09:30

I work for HMRC, we have volunteer days but Scouting is not on the list of recommended charities. I am going to Holland this summer with my group and would appreciate one day at least, I intend to apply for special leave

By steve altria
on 24/12/2009 15:08

I would advise that Local Government conditions of service also offer 5 days leave.

It is a cost effective way of improving our future society.

Steve Altria
GSL Wellington

(campaigning to have the option to have succesful Explorer Units back in Scout Groups)

on 24/12/2009 21:07

Just a note to say I find your blog really interesting; the fact you take the trouble and time to write is a real credit to you. I don’t know how you find time to breath never mind blog. It is good to hear what other people’s roles in Scouting involve and good to remind us people on the front line that you work just as hard as we do, some weeks a lot harder. The topics are interesting and most of all relevant. I wanted to use Christmas as an excuse to say thank you and to send best wishes for the season to you and your family.

By Nigel Taylor
on 26/12/2009 09:36

I work for HMRC and before this year I got five days special leave with pay for Scouting. This year the number of days was reduced to three and next year it will be none. The reason for the change is that there is no "business benefit". The criteria has been set that any application must meet three criteria - benefit for community, benefit for the person volunteering and business benefit. Therefore if someone wants to go to a school and talk about "tax" they will be in a better position than someone who wants to be involved with Scouting or other charities such as St.John Ambulance, working with disable children etc. My application for next year will be based around talking to Groups about "gift aid".

By Dave
on 26/12/2009 15:42

I was speaking to an MP at a recent reception at parliament and we got on to the topic of how to encourage volunteering.

He told me that that very day he had given his PA (who was a guideleader) an extra 10 paid days off per year to accommodate her volunteering - fantastic!

By Wolfie
on 29/12/2009 20:27

"I would advise that Local Government conditions of service also offer 5 days leave." - sadly Steve that only applies to certain "posts" such as school governors, mayors etc and not things like Scouting, at least by my LGA employer :-(

By Ian Mallett
on 01/01/2010 17:44

As a Department of Health (DH) Civil Servant, I can confirm that the only youth organisations staff qualify for special leave to work with are the cadet forces, and then as far as I can see, it is only to attend training courses not summer camps, although I assume there is a way of making the camps appear like a training week.

I believe that this dates back to the time when "national" civil service terms & conditions of employment existed. Sadly national negotiation around these disappeared with the introduction of Next Steps Agencies and departmental level bargaining in the early 1990s. I think we now have a health benefit priority for volunteering, which is understandable in DH, but doesn't benefit those volunteering with voluntary youth organisations

By Alison H
on 06/01/2010 16:38

I work for MOD, not sure if they give SPL for scout activities, I will look into it and report back.

By Debbie Bullock
on 06/01/2010 21:10

Sorry for the belated comment. The good news is that its not just civil servants that might have access to this leave. Many large private sector employers also offer volunteering leave.

I work for Aviva and we offer all employees 21 hours volunteering leave a year, plus reasonable paid leave for Governors on top and leaders in recognised uniformed youth organisations (Scouting included) can have leave for camp on a day for a day basis - so if you would have to take 5 days normally you only take 2.5 days as hols with 2.5 days community leave.

It would pay for everyone to check with their HR department.

By Neil Spowart
on 07/01/2010 15:34

Currently I'm unemployed and feel that the Government are discriminating against those leaders within the Movement by limiting their holiday time in this Country to 2 weeks per year. I feel that it should be 4 weeks per year and a special option should be set up within JSA 2 allow Scouters and other leaders from uniformed youth organisations to allow us to go abroad with Scouts/Guides etc without having to sign off

By Clare
on 08/01/2010 17:49

Like Nigel, I work for HMRC and have never been able to get any volunteering leave for Scouting activities in the last 7 years. People have been able to have time in the past for the shoe box appeals, making costumes for YHA, clearing canals and Time Team big-digs, but unless we can run a camp based on improving my Cubs understanding of the tax system (yawn), I don't think I would get very far now. It is however extremely annoying to have a colleague in the TA who has 2 weeks 'training' (and then another 2 weeks upgrading his HGV (or similar) driving experience while we have to cover his work!

By Bob
on 08/01/2010 19:19

I work for HMRC. I've previously had great support with special leave for events before this year. Unfortunately the new criteria are really prohibitive. I know of around a dozen scout leaders in our office and not one of us has managed to get any time off. It would be really useful if the Scout Association could get themselves on the 'magic list'. I've tried doing this from the inside but no joy. Since HMRC launched its new Corporate Responsibility drive with a business objective to get staff volunteering, it has been almost impossible for scout leaders to get time off. Ironic.

By Stephen
on 09/01/2010 16:56

Does anyone know if there are similar opportunities for NHS staff (either through agenda for change or local policy)?

By John Gathercole
on 09/01/2010 18:23

The Dept for Transport offer 1.5 days (I think, it might actually be 3) for voluntary activities, and I have had confirmation that attending scouting activities counts for this. On the other hand, if I was a Army Cadet instructor, I could claim a week off (for - as mentioned elsewhere - training purposes).

Presumably the difference is that Cadets might go on to join the Army, whereas Scouts...

By Steve
on 09/01/2010 20:01

Another great blog!

However, I think it depends who your manager is whether you get the leave or not. As another poster says the Local Government leave seems to only apply to school governers etc, I know it does not even apply to Hospital Governers (because the role is newer than the policy and policies dont get updated). As for the Dept of Health report, I work for the NHS and it does not stretch the leave does not stretch to the NHS.

Is there Gilwell could do to promote this opportunity with employers. For example could we write to every HR manager of Civil Service and public sector offices etc.

By helen
on 09/01/2010 21:47

you took the words out of my mouth stephen! our hospital is currently going onto erostering ( the comuter does it for you) and i am only allowed 4 requests per month - this means i have to use all my requests just to attend my cub meetings - never mind day trips or camps (or anything with my own family). special leave for camps etc would be a godsend. any one know the official goverment line?

By Jan Humphreys
on 10/01/2010 10:23

Stephen, Registered nurses should check with their individual HR departments. The Royal College of Nursing (via RCN Direct) Offers its members professional support, which can include: PPD, Help and Representation at work, Legal help and indemnity insurance benenfits, education and research, library services and an extensive range of online resources as well as personal support, counselling services, discounts and special deals. Contact details: 0345 772 6100 or www.rcn.org.uk/direct - Hope this helps!

By Mike
on 10/01/2010 11:05

I work for DWP who don not give special leave for scouting. Everyday they push their volunteer scheme "Community 5000" asking us to volunteer for local projects but ignore requests from the staff who volunteer in both scouting and guiding. Maybe the scout association can speak to the civil service as a whole to help us have a civil service wide approach in every department.

By Karen Osborne
on 10/01/2010 13:12

I work for the DWP and I have never been allowed special leave for camps etc, and have to take annual leave. It would be great to get special leave. They are supposed to be encouraging voluntering to help in the community1

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