Solidarity leave

Voluntary Service Exchange and skills Family (VEC)

Contact :Juliette Manant

This short form of voluntary service was introduced in 2000 by Planète Urgence under the label "Congé Solidaire" with the backing of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since then other organisations*, including France Volontaires, have taken up this idea, thus contributing to establishing its identity and developing it.

Solidarity Leave is not recognised by law and has no legal status. So an employee or agent does not change status during his voluntary service.

Since 2006 : 74 missions during solidarity work leave accomplished by 68 volunteers in 15 countries by France Volontaires. 

Who ?

Solidarity Leave exclusively concerns employees in companies or active agents from local and regional authorities. It involves a three-level partnership link : a northern partner, a southern partner and a sending organism.

Why ?

Solidarity Leave missions meet a specific demand of beneficiary partners
The principle of these missions is to help development by mobilising the skills of volunteer employees. It is essential that the missions result in reinforced skills of local workers.

The interest for the host partner

  • Benefits from skills backup or reinforcement in projects of general interest,
  • discovers or reviving different professional techniques and practices,
  • has an inter-cultural approach against a professional background.

The interest for the sending partner

  • Mobilises its workers around a mission of general interest,
  • brings its corporate values beyond traditional territory,
  • materialises its corporate social responsibility policy,
  • gets to know the problems attached to one sector of a business through a different culture,
  • benefits from useful tax relief.

The interest for the volunteer

  • Becomes initiated in how other countries live and work,
  • mobilises and adapting his skills to a new professional context,
  • brings his work practices and life skills to a different culture,
  • takes part in an activity of general interest.

How ?

What fields does VSI cover ?

Diagnosis/consulting, design, training in the fields of information and communication, project management, financial activities and insurance, administrative services and support activities.

Collective or individual experience ?

The experience is individual. Some missions can be carried out in pairs to have complementary skills available.

Time scale ?

Minimum : 2 weeks ; maximum : 3 weeks ; maximum : 2½ weeks.

Statute guarantees ?

The volunteer does not change statute during his mission, so he keeps his social and complementary coverage. Special insurance for the mission is, however, taken out by France Volontaires for the whole duration of the mission. 

France Volontaires is, moreover, involved at all levels of the mission :

  • identifying and setting up the mission with the host structures,
  • helping with the selection of volunteers and preparing the mission
  • booking accommodation for the volunteer for the whole duration of the mission 
  • obtaining the visa,
  • One-day preparation for the mission,
  • meeting the volunteer at the airport by his local contact or, failing that, the host partner,
  • arranging transport for the volunteer from the airport to his mission location and back again for the return,
  • organising any journeys the volunteer needs to make in accomplishing his mission,
  • following and supporting the volunteer during the mission, debriefing on his return,
  • technical backup for the volunteer in the various jobs connected with his mission, by the host partner, for at least one point at the beginning and one at the end of the mission.

Profile ?

Company employee and local or regional authority agent. The most common professions in past missions have been accountancy, IT specialist, webmaster, communication professional, marketing and human resources.

How much does it cost ?

An employee of agent from an authority takes leave in a mission that is financed in whole or in part by his employer, his Works Committee or Works Foundation, who will have signed a partnership convention with the sending organism. When the mission is not financed wholly by the employer, the volunteer pays the rest.

Focus & illustrations

Examples of past missions :

Read the article « Et si on partait en vacances solidaires ? », Ouest France, February 2013
Read the article « Implication des collaborateurs », Entreprises et Mécénat, October 2012