Your Right To Community Service Leave
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Your Right To Community Service Leave

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) Chapter 2-2 Division 8 (National Employment Standards (NES) - Community Service Leave) provides workers the right to take unpaid leave to engage in an “eligible community service activity”. The period of leave covers the time spent engaging in the activity, travel, and reasonable rest periods, but must be “reasonable in all the circumstances”.

The definition of “eligible community service activity” is cascading, but (leaving jury service aside) includes “a voluntary emergency management activity”. There are some prescriptions around what
exactly that is, including that the activity:

• must involve an emergency or natural disaster;

• must be voluntary (though may involve an honorarium or gratuity etc.);

• must be conducted through a recognised emergency management body (and again, there’s
a definition, which captures CFA (see Campbell v Aero & Military Products [2015] FCCA 2310) of which the worker is a member;

• must be done by the worker on the request of said body (or but for the circumstances a
request would have been made).

The worker must notify their leave as soon as practicable, and must notify the duration or expected duration of the leave. An employer may require the worker to provide reasonable evidence.

Anything beyond the legal minimum, which is unpaid, would depend on the worker’s particular workplace and consequent workplace arrangements. Some EBAs will have clauses providing for paid leave, and Morrison recently announced that APS workers will be afforded 4 weeks’ of paid leave.