Employees may be able to donate their unused holiday or sick leave entitlement in exchange for their employer making cash payments to charity, under a new initiative that has been mooted by an accountancy firm.
The scheme has already been instigated in the US by the American Inland Revenue Service, which was seeking ways to increase the amount of money donated to the Hurricane Katrina crisis fund.
Graeme Surtees, tax partner at Hartlepool-based accountancy firm Horwath Clark Whitehall, said the idea could easily be transferred across the Atlantic in order to benefit charities in this country.
Surtees said: "We are approaching a time of year when many of us have the odd day or two left in our holiday entitlement and some of us might end up not using it. This idea would ensure that unused holiday entitlement could benefit others and increase charitable contributions."
Andrew Watt, head of policy at the Institute of Fundraising, welcomed the idea. He said: "It is a really good opportunity and could act as a catalyst for more thinking about a range of issues on how people can support charities.
"In this case it's a gift of time that is a financial asset for the charity."