Using sick leave to volunteer helps employees make a difference in our community

“When you ask most people what they want to do when they retire, they will often say two things – travel and volunteer more,” said Junelle Kroontje, King County Employee Giving Program Manager (KCEGP). “During an employee’s work life, making time for volunteering can be difficult. By allowing our employees to use up to three days of sick leave to volunteer at a King County Employee Giving Program nonprofit or at a local school, it frees them up to do it today – instead of waiting for retirement.“

The volunteer program allows all employees covered by the Master Labor Agreement with the King County Coalition of Unions, other collective bargaining units that have ratified this option, and all non-represented employees to use up to three days of sick leave per year for volunteer service.

“Nonprofits are really excited about this benefit and have some super cool opportunities for our employees to engage in, from long term board service to helping out at specific events,” said Junelle.

Volunteer service includes a wide range of opportunities including gifts of time, labor, or expertise in support of community initiatives, which directly benefit the community beyond our immediate selves and families and results in improvements to our local or global community. Some examples are packing or distributing food at a food bank, judging a science fair, walking dogs at an animal shelter, mentoring as part of an official volunteer program, and more.

“We are an employer that invests in our employees, so that they can make a difference at work and in our communities,” Whitney Abrams, Chief People Officer, said. “Whatever your passion, you can use this benefit to support organizations that share your passion.”

Employees need to confirm that organizations are eligible for the program before they volunteer.

“It is important to note that the nonprofit chosen by an employee must be in the Employee Giving Program to qualify for use of benefit,” said Junelle. “The nonprofit application process will be opening soon, so now is a great time to refer a nonprofit to us if it is not already part of the Employee Giving Program.”

You can check if an organization is part of the program by looking it up on the KCEGP Nonprofits website. If you have questions about eligible volunteering activities, you can reach out to employeegiving@kingcounty.gov.

After employees identify a nonprofit for which they want to volunteer time, they must request leave in advance and in writing, per collective bargaining and department leave request procedures, specifying the name of the school or organization and the nature of the volunteer services to be performed. Employees can take advantage of the sick leave for volunteer service up to three days per calendar year. Each volunteer opportunity must not exceed a normal work day. Employees are encouraged to volunteer at least half of a work day to maximize use of this benefit, since use is limited to three instances per year. Find the request form, policies, procedures and FAQ here.

“Here at King County, we have our Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan,” said Junelle. “Our employees not only want to show up through their work to support the plan, they also want to do it personally. This benefit helps make all of that possible.”