With the bushfires across Queensland and New South Wales, now is a good time to remind employers about their obligations to provide community service leave to employees.

Community service leave is one of the 10 minimum entitlements under the National Employment Standards (NES) that applies to all workers under the federal employment system in Australia. It applies to casual, part-time and full-time employees for specific types of activities, such as:

  • Voluntary emergency management, such as SES or Rural Firefighter work; and
  • Jury duty.

Voluntary emergency management activities must be:

  • Voluntary (not a paid role)
  • In response to an actual emergency or natural disasters, such as flood or fire;
  • Where it has been requested that they attend (or it’s reasonably expected that they would have been contacted) and
  • They must be a member of the recognised emergency management body they are volunteering for.

This means that although well-meaning, community service leave does not apply to individuals who are organising collections of supplies, such as food and water, for emergency management bodies, in an unofficial capacity.

During this time, there is no limit to the amount of leave the employee is entitled to, so long as they are either, engaged in the emergency/disaster response or management, plus reasonable travelling and rest time.

This leave is an unpaid entitlement (excepting jury duty, which has other obligations).


The team at Workplace Central truly appreciate the work and commitment made by all the community at this time, as parts of the Sunshine Coast have been terribly impacted by this fire.