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Vacaville City Council Approves Paid Leave for Community Service for City Employees

At the August 8th Vacaville City Council meeting, the Council approved a pilot program which will allow full-time employees to use up to eight hours of leave per year for community service at qualified community organizations.

The originally proposed program was called the “Employer Sponsored Volunteerism Pilot Program.” The City Council voiced their support of the proposed program, but requested the name be changed to remove the term “volunteer.”

Councilmember Silva stated “The only issue I have with this is the term ‘volunteerism.” I absolutely want to support this… can we change the term ‘volunteerism’ to ‘community service’ or ‘giving back’ or something like that?”

Assistant City Manager GeorgeAnne Meggers-Smith said the word “volunteer” was chosen to show it was not a mandatory program for employees, but one they would voluntarily participate in.

With the amended terminology, the program passed unanimously by Council.

Original Post on Vacaville’s Volunteerism Program

If approved by The Vacaville City Council, the city will provide eligible city employees with eight hours of leave per year to be used for certain volunteer work. Examples of authorized volunteer work provided in the city’s proposal include:

  • Food banks
  • Animal rescues or sanctuaries
  • Organizations providing temporary housing or support for undeserved community members
  • Youth services
  • Vacaville classrooms
  • City clean-up events

Any approved volunteer work must directly benefit the Vacaville community and be sponsored by local non-profits, schools, or service-based clubs and other non-profit organizations. The proposed program specifically prohibits paid, volunteer time being used for political activities or any for-profit organizations.

Under the proposed program, unused volunteer hours may not be cashed out and can not roll over into subsequent years. Requests to use paid time for volunteering will require advanced approval from the City Manager’s Office.

While the program would allow City of Vacaville employees to be paid for volunteer work, it would have little-to-no direct impact on budgeting. This is because staff would, in theory, be using already-budgeted time for the program. Unless another employee is required to backfill the position or the employee must work overtime to catch up on work because the employee was volunteering, there would be no additional cost.

According to GovernmentJobs.com, the City of Vacaville has over 500 employees. If all employees were eligible and used eight hours of volunteer time, the program could theoretically provide 4,000 hours of volunteer service for local organizations from paid on-duty city employees. That’s nearly the equivalent of two full-time employees.

If approved, the pilot program will run from September 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024, at which time it will be evaluated for permanent adoption.

The Employer Sponsored Volunteerism Pilot Program is proposed as part of the city’s 2021 Strategic Plan. Its goal is to enhance the quality of life while providing creative benefits that attract and retain high performance employees.

All Solano reached out to city staff who reported the cities of Walnut Creek and Elk Grove have similar programs. They clarified that all full-time employees would be eligible to participate in the program if it’s approved.

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