2.4 Youth volunteering at national level
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National voluntary services in Luxembourg have their legal basis defined in the 2007 Law on Youth Voluntary Service. The voluntary services address young people below the age of 30 years, who have successfully completed mandatory schooling (usually at the age of 12) (Art. 4,1), and who want to engage in a project of general interest with a duration of 3-12 months (Art. 5,2 (1)). The law not only 'foresees measures that encourage volunteers to participate in voluntary activities, but also supports organisations through different financial incentives with the aim to encourage them to take up as many volunteers as possible. Therefore, the law foresees that no taxes are to be imposed on volunteers' pocket money, food, accommodation or any other economic compensation granted to them. Furthermore, the burden of the social contributions is entirely assumed by the state. In this sense, volunteers are covered against sickness, accidents, professional illnesses, dependency, disability and old age' (SPES, 2010, p. 227). The National Voluntary Service (SVN; Service Volontaire National) is the main national programme for youth volunteering. It addresses young citizens (16 to 30 years of age) who have completed their compulsory education and who are motivated to engage in socio-cultural, socio-educational, cultural or environmental projects. Its duration is 3 to 12 months. The SVN helps young people acquire practical competences and provides personalised support. The service especially focuses on disadvantaged young people with fewer opportunities and aims at encouraging early school leavers to go back to school to successfully complete a degree. Participants in the National Voluntary Service in 2020: 367 (MENJE, 2021, p. 98). Targets for the level of youth participation in the voluntary services have not been defined by the public actors. However, the National Youth Service aims to increase the number of participants from year to year by promoting the opportunities to participate in voluntary activities (see also: 2.6 Raising awareness about youth volunteering opportunities). Furthermore, the leave for youth workers (congé jeunesse) is another important programme that supports the development of voluntary activities for young people. The leave for youth workers was introduced in 2007 and entitles young people to time off from work so that they can participate in voluntary activities within the country and abroad: internships, study days or seminars, holiday camps or clubs, etc. The modalities are regulated by the grand-ducal regulation of 11 November 2008 defining the modalities of application of the leave for youth workers (règlement grand –ducal du 11 novembre 2008 déterminant les modalités d'application du congé-jeunesse). The beneficiary of a leave for youth workers is entitled by law to a total of 60 days off throughout the full professional career, while not exceeding 20 days over a period of 2 years. The duration of the youth worker's leave is recognised as an active period of work, where the employer must pay the employee a compensatory allowance. This allowance will correspond to the average daily salary, but may not exceed 4 times the social minimum wage for unskilled workers.
In 2020, a total of 240 individuals requested this special leave; 168 applications were granted (corresponding to 723 days) (MENJE, 2021, p.106).
There is no detailed budget data available with respect to voluntary services at the national level. Funding is available to the overall budget of programmes supporting young people in the transition to working life (€ 3 600 000 in 2022). The amount that employers received in 2015 for youth workers' leave was € 328 647, and in 2022 it corresponded to € 337 967. A large number of voluntary activities (see: 2.2 Administration and governance of youth volunteering) take place in the framework of community life (sports clubs, music society, youth organisations, scouts movement, etc.) and are partly funded by the government. According to the 2016 Youth Law (loi du 24 avril 2016 portant modification de la moi modifiée du 4 juillet 2008 sur la jeunesse), organisations are eligible for subsidies for the activities they organise on behalf of young people. In this way, young people who volunteer in organisations are financially supported. The Luxembourgish government supports activities for young people (2015: € 115 752; 2016: € 115 752; 2022: € 105 000). Some youth organisations are also funded on the basis of an agreement with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Children. Detailed budget information is not available.
The Youth Report 2015 shows main trends in youth volunteering and characteristics of young people participating in national volunteering in Luxembourg. Compared with other European countries, Luxembourg has a relatively high number of young people registered as members of a club or association and taking part in its activities. However, the proportion of those who are actively involved in their club is far smaller (data records from Eurobarometer 319a, 2011). When it comes to characteristics of young volunteers, there are clear differences depending on social background, education and migration background. Young volunteers are more likely to have a higher standard of education, usually have a higher income. The vast majority of such young people also have Luxembourg nationality, and many come from homes with a high standard of education and a high level of interest in social engagement. Young people who do not have Luxembourg nationality are significantly underrepresented – especially those of Portuguese nationality. In addition, young men are more involved in clubs and associations than young women. The many services intended to promote civic engagement are also used almost exclusively by young people of Luxembourg nationality. Most of these young people are under the age of 25, have a high standard of education and come from a middle-class home; many of them are socially engaged in several different ways. Regarding the national voluntary service (SVN), the past evaluation (SNJ, 2011b) (Service volontaire pour jeunes, Évaluation intermédiaire) outlined that participants were more often from single parent households or households with both parents unemployed. Furthermore, the participants reported problems regarding their family, their financial situation, legal status and health.
Legislation confers benefits on young volunteers (see: National programme for youth volunteering).
Quality assurance (QA) is ensured by the 2007 Law on Youth Voluntary Service (Art. 3) (loi du 31 octobre 2007 sur le service volontaire des jeunes) which defines also the standards of quality. Furthermore, the monitoring and evaluation of voluntary services contribute to the quality assurance and improvement of the programmes (see: Policy monitoring and evaluation). Organisations that want to offer a voluntary service programme get an agreement by decision of the minister in charge of youth policy. A commission composed of representatives of different ministries and presided over by the director of the National Youth Service provides advice regarding such agreements and evaluates the organisation's capacity and capability to fulfil certain requirements. According to the law, organisations have to prove that they have no criminal record, justify the ability and capacity to organise a voluntary service, and dispose over the necessary human and financial resources. Agreements are fixed for three years and define the maximum number of persons enrolled. They can be extended for the same length of time. However, an agreement can be withdrawn when an organisation does not fulfil the requirements defined by the agreement. It can also be withdrawn if the organisation endangers the volunteer's security and physical or mental health. The organisation is required to send a copy of the contract with the volunteer, an annual report of the activities of the volunteers and a final report on every case of voluntary service to the National Youth Service. The National Youth Service is entitled to inspect the organisation at any time and to examine all accompanying documents.
The voluntary services address young people below 30 years of age who have completed mandatory schooling. Further criteria differ depending on the specific voluntary service (see: National Programme for Youth Volunteering).