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Community Service Leave: What is it and when does it apply?

August 25, 2016


Did you know that in some circumstances, your employees are entitled to community service leave which allows them be absent from work when they are participating in a particular community service activity?

We all love to do our bit to serve the community. No matter what the emergency or natural disaster, Australians go above and beyond to help those in need.

What is the entitlement?

Community Service Leave is an entitlement under the NES. A person is entitled to be absent from the workplace when he or she is engaged in either:

  1. jury service, including attendance for jury selection; or
  2. a “voluntary emergency management activity” that involves dealing with an emergency or a natural disaster (e.g. firefighting or SES volunteers)

A staff member who intends to take community service leave must notify you of the expected period of their absence as soon as practicable. They must also provide evidence to prove that the reason for the absence is legitimate.

When you must pay an employee for community service leave:

Jury duty is the one type of community service leave that attracts payment for your employees (other than a casual employee).

Employees who are required to attend jury service or jury selection are entitled to be paid “make up pay” for the first 10 days of jury selection and jury duty. “Make up pay” is the difference between the amount the employee receives from the Court, and employees’ base rate of pay they would have received for the ordinary hours they would have normally worked, had they not been absent due to jury duty.

As an employer, you are entitled to ask the employee to provide evidence of any payment they received from the Court before you pay any make up pay. If your employee fails to provide evidence, they aren’t entitled to receive payment from you.

When you do not have to pay an employee for community service leave:

Community service leave that is taken because of a voluntary emergency management activity is unpaid. You also do not have to pay “make up pay” when an employee’s period of jury duty extends beyond 10 days.

Employees required to attend court as witnesses:

Interestingly, employees who are required to attend court as witnesses are not entitled to community service leave. An employee who is required to attend court for a reason other than jury service may take paid annual leave, or request unpaid leave  for the period they will be away from work.

For more information on the recommendations and what this means for you, clients should contact the HR Assured team. If you’d like more information about the benefits of becoming an HR Assured client contact us today for an informal chat.