Workers at cash-strapped Wolverhampton City Council will be given two days off each year to carry out volunteer work – while still being paid, under plans unveiled today.
Bosses say the move will help boost morale and the council’s profile.
It comes just weeks after it was announced up to 1,000 jobs could be lost at the local authority by 2015 amid cuts of £89 million.
The Employee Volunteering Scheme would give workers the chance to volunteer in Wolverhampton.
But the move has been criticised by opposition councillors, who labelled it ‘confusing’ at a time when the council is making cuts.
Councillor Neville Patten, leader of the opposition Conservative group, said: “The council is apparently trying to save money but can afford to send staff out and give them days off but they are still being paid.
“If they are having the time off who is covering the work they should be doing?”
In a statement of support, council chief executive Simon Warren said: “Volunteering can enhance working relationships, create wider connections and enhance possibilities of future joint working.
“It can improve job satisfaction, morale and personal development and simply be a means of giving, to create a more self reliant and resilient society.”
It has to be agreed with a manager at least two weeks before volunteering takes place so cover can be arranged if needed.
It would also only be possible if ‘time taken to volunteer will not disrupt or adversely affect’ the team’, a report going to a scrutiny panel meeting on Thursday reveals.
Any expenses will not be paid by the council. The report states: “Whilst, on the face of it, the scheme might appear an extravagance at a time that savings are being made across the authority, the benefits have the potential to outweigh the cost of the scheme.”