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Can volunteerism be part of job review criteria?

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in Compensation and Benefits,Employment Law,Human Resources

Q. Our evaluation process includes commitment to the community. We give all employees “points” for volunteering. The points become part of their numerical rating and could affect their rating (satisfactory or unsatisfactory) and raise potential. We don’t pay for volunteering time. Are we violating the law? — K.O., Illinois

A.  If the employees are performing volunteer work in the community (rather than for your company) and are volunteering during their personal time, you do not have to pay them. However, some state laws (including Illinois’ Personnel Record Review Act) prohibit employers from keeping records of employees’ associations, political activities and other non-employment activities.

So, particularly in those states, employers cannot make employment decisions based on what an employee does on his or her own time. It may be better to support volunteer efforts in a different way and not to award “points” for volunteering.

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