​There’s a bank which opens 24 hours a day, all year round, and which does not charge any interest. Its clients do not use it to save money but to collect time. It’s called the Leave Bank and thanks to it, public officers have the opportunity to express solidarity towards each other in a concrete manner.

In fact the Public Service offers its employees the possibility to voluntarily donate part of their leave to colleagues who need to be away from work for long stretches of time due to illness. This can be done either by donating leave hours to a central fund or by choosing specific individuals to donate the hours to.

Every year, many public officers respond to this call and offer some of their leave hours to be put in the central fund or to go directly to help specific colleagues in need. The total number of hours collected year after year is always very encouraging.

In 2014 this total amounted to 12,179 hours – a number which has shot up to 30,376 hours this year.

“I cannot quite express the gratitude I feel towards whoever donates a part of their leave, however small, for the benefit of their colleagues,” said a public officer who needed to use the central fund this year after being diagnosed with a serious illness. “In your hour of need, when you feel that you have truly hit rock bottom, it is that solidarity and that empathy from your colleagues - even if you don’t know them personally - which make you feel loved and give you the inner strength to continue to fight your illness. These things are more precious than any material gift a person could ever receive.”