Volunteering Leave (Huskies Give Back)

NIU is committed to supporting its employees and improving local communities. If you're a full-time NIU employee, the Huskies Give Back program provides you with up to one day (7.5 hours) of paid time off to volunteer during your regularly scheduled work hours. You can take the leave once each fiscal year (July 1-June 30).

You can volunteer with a preapproved organization or any public school. You can also volunteer at a private or parochial school, as long as you're not recruiting to or promoting a faith. If you want to volunteer at an organization that's not preapproved, submit a Volunteer Organization Request at least three weeks before volunteering.

How to Volunteer

Preapproved Volunteer Organizations

If the organization you want to volunteer for is on the preapproved volunteer opportunities list:

  1. Fill out the Time Off Request and get approval from your supervisor at least two weeks prior to volunteering.
  2. Volunteer!
  3. Have a supervisor at the volunteering site sign the Time Off Request form.
  4. Return the Time Off Request form to Human Resources within one week of volunteering.

Volunteer Organizations Not on the Preapproved List

If the organization you want to volunteer for is not on the preapproved volunteer opportunities list:

  1. Fill out the Volunteer Organization Request at least three weeks prior to volunteering.
  2. Fill out the Time Off Request and get approval from your supervisor at least two weeks prior to volunteering.
  3. Volunteer!
  4. Have a supervisor at the volunteering site sign the Time Off Request form.
  5. Return the Time Off Request form to Human Resources within one week of volunteering.

Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility

Who is eligible to participate in the Huskies Give Back program?

All full-time employees who are on 9, 10, or 12-month contracts.

Am I eligible if I am a member of a union?

Yes.

I'm a faculty member and do not have vacation days. How am I able to participate?

Faculty tend to have more flexible work hours than most employees and would likely already be able to volunteer during normal business hours. However, the university hopes that faculty will register their volunteer activities through Huskies Give Back so that the university can better capture the amount of time employees are volunteering. Faculty may not cancel classes to volunteer.

Program Logistics

Is the Huskies Give Back Time Off Request required?

Yes. Employees using volunteer time off must complete the Huskies Give Back Time Off Request, requesting time off and verifying their use of the benefit. Completed forms must be sent to Human Resources at least two weeks before the requested volunteer date. Employees must get a supervisor at the volunteer site to sign the Time Off Request and return it to Human Resources within a week of volunteering. If they don't, the employee will have to take vacation time equivalent to the volunteered time.

Do I have to take a full day to volunteer or can I volunteer for a few hours over multiple days?

Employees can volunteer multiple times over the course of the fiscal year as long as the following occurs:

  • Total volunteer time cannot exceed 7.5 hours.
  • A Huskies Give Back Time Off Request must be submitted for each occurrence and receive supervisor approval.
My work day is longer than 7.5 hours. Can I use more than 7.5 hours to volunteer?

In order to treat all employees equally, employees are only permitted to use up to 7.5 hours (the typical work day for most employees).

Can an employee's request for volunteer time off be denied?

The decision to accept a request for volunteer time off is within the discretion of the supervisor, based on the business and operational needs of the department. If the supervisor determines that the requested time will conflict with business needs, they are encouraged to work with the employee to find a time that works for both the department and the employee. Faculty are not permitted to cancel class to participate.

Can a supervisor shift my work schedule to accommodate my volunteering request?

No. Volunteering requests must be made during the employee's normal work days and hours.

Is unused volunteer time paid out or carried over to the following year?

No.

What do I fill in on my SOEEA report for the time that I volunteered?

You should not submit time volunteering as working hours on your SOEEA report.

Does travel time count towards volunteer time off?

Your volunteer time off may include the time required to travel to the volunteer site.

Do I need to complete a Workers' Compensation Injury Report if I'm injured while volunteering or while traveling to the volunteering site?

As with any activities that occur outside of NIU employment while an employee is using paid time off, NIU is not liable for injuries incurred during volunteer time off. Therefore, it is not necessary for the employee or supervisor to complete the Workers' Compensation Injury Report. Of course, in the event an employee sustains any injury at any time, employees are advised to seek medical attention appropriate to the injury.

Volunteering Opportunities

What if an organization is not on the preapproved list?

Employees can request that an organization be added to the list by filling out the Huskies Give Back Volunteer Organization Request. The Ethics and Compliance Office must approve the request. Political advocacy or participation is strictly prohibited. Although religious organizations may be charitable organizations, this program does not apply to activities designed to promote religious beliefs. However, service would include activities supported by religious organizations such as working in soup kitchens, homeless shelters or other community activities.

Can I volunteer for an organization outside of DeKalb County?

Yes. Employees can request that an organization be added to the list by filling out the Huskies Give Back Volunteer Organization Request. The Ethics and Compliance Office must approve the request.

Can I volunteer in a private school?

Yes, although employees must indicate the kind of volunteering that will be performed on the Huskies Give Back Volunteer Organization Request and have it approved by the Ethics and Compliance Office. This program does not apply to activities designed to promote religious beliefs. For example, volunteering for a class party would likely be approved, but volunteering to give a class prayer would not be.

Can I volunteer for a political activity?

No. As per the State Ethics Law, any political activity must be completed during non-working hours.

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