Factorial logo

VTO (Voluntary/Volunteer Time Off)

VTO is an acronym commonly used in HR, and it can refer to two different things. It is widely used to mean volunteer time off or voluntary time off. 

While these phrases might sound similar, they are pretty different. You must understand the differences as both terms could be relevant if you’re working on developing company leave policies. Understanding the difference is also crucial when promoting leave policies to employees.

Voluntary Time Off - What is it?

Voluntary time off is a type of leave that companies often use to stabilize staffing requirements because of volatile workloads. 

Amazon, the massive online store, is a prime example of a company that does this regularly because of shifting sales patterns. 

If, for example, more employees can work than are needed, voluntary time-off is a viable option. It gives the staff that aren’t required on any given day the opportunity to take time off (unpaid) without worrying about any repercussions or risk of losing their job. 

Amazon regularly encourages employees who work in its many warehouses to opt for VTO. It benefits the company because it saves on staffing and increases efficiency.     

Does Voluntary Time Off Come With Any Drawbacks?

There are some apparent benefits of VTO, such as increased efficiency and reductions in staffing costs, but are there any downsides? 

A reduction in unproductive hours is an obvious benefit concerning call centers and warehouses. Still, a voluntary time-off policy can also lead to a mismatch concerning workload and staffing. 

Employees might also feel a conflict of interest when deciding whether they should stay at work and earn some money or opt for the VTO. The difficulty of the decision is compounded when management has high VTO quotas they must fill. 

Such issues can make employees feel uncomfortable because they believe that reducing costs and saving money is more important for the employer than any efforts the staff makes to ensure they’re available for work.  

Volunteer Time Off - What is it?

Volunteer time off is paid leave compared to unpaid leave. An employee will receive their usual pay, but in this case, it is paid to a community organization or an approved charity of the employee's choice.

It’s a way of allowing employees to make a difference outside the organization. It also allows employers to support communities or non-profits in ways that aren’t simply a donation of money.  

Tips on the Development of a Policy for Volunteer Time Off

Try and answer the following questions when creating a policy for volunteer time off:

  • Who will be responsible for approving VTO requests?
  • Will employees have to verify the VTO?
  • Should your organization volunteer in political causes?
  • Consider whether any organizations have values that counter those of your organization.