Community Service Leave

This guide covers the key aspects of community service leave in Australia, including eligibility, types of leave such as jury service and emergency services participation, payment details, and employer obligations.

Community service leave in Australia is an essential employment provision that allows employees to participate in community services like jury duty and emergency response without worrying about their job security. This guide will delve into the various aspects of community service leave and how it impacts both employers and employees.

Understanding Community Service Leave

Community service leave is designated for employees who are required to engage in certain types of community activities. These activities primarily include jury service and volunteering for emergency management activities. The leave covers the duration of the service, including the time taken to travel, participate, and recover.

Eligibility and Scope of Community Service Leave

This leave applies to various emergency services including firefighting, defense, or rescue operations, and is most commonly used for jury service. It's available to all employees, including casuals, on an unpaid basis. The leave is flexible and does not have a fixed limit, as long as the reasons for taking it are valid and reasonable.

Jury Service as a Special Category

One of the key components of community service leave is jury service. Unlike other forms of community service leave, jury service is paid. Employees on jury service receive a stipend from the government, and employers are required to top up this amount to ensure the employee receives their full salary. The top-up is necessary for up to 10 days of service and applies only to permanent employees.

For instance, if an employee's usual weekly base rate is $700 and the government pays $250 for jury service, the employer must top up $450 to make up the employee's usual pay.

Managing Community Service Leave

Employers can request proof from employees to verify their participation in community service activities, especially in the case of jury service. This proof may include documents that confirm the employee's involvement and the amount paid by the government. Employers need to be aware of state laws that might offer more generous community service leave than the National Employment Standards.

Implications for Employers and Employees

For employers, understanding and managing community service leave is crucial for compliance with employment laws. Employers should have clear policies to handle such leaves effectively. Employees, on the other hand, must provide necessary evidence for their involvement in community services and communicate effectively with their employers about their leave requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What qualifies as community service leave? Community service leave in Australia typically includes jury service and voluntary participation in emergency management activities. This can involve serving with organizations like the State Emergency Service, Country Fire Association, or other recognised emergency management bodies.
  2. Is community service leave paid or unpaid? Community service leave is generally unpaid, except for jury service. For jury service, the government pays a stipend, and employers are required to top this up to the employee's usual pay for up to 10 days.
  3. Are all employees eligible for community service leave? Yes, all employees, including part-time, full-time, and casual employees, are entitled to community service leave. The key requirement is that the leave is for eligible community service activities.
  4. How much notice must an employee give before taking community service leave? Employees are expected to give their employer notice of the need to take community service leave as soon as possible. This notice should include the duration of the leave and the reason for it.
  5. Can an employer refuse community service leave? Employers generally cannot refuse community service leave if it is for eligible activities like jury service or emergency management activities. However, they can request reasonable evidence of the employee's participation in these activities.


Community service leave is an essential component of Australian employment law, recognising the importance of civic duties and supporting employees in fulfilling these responsibilities. Employers need to understand their obligations and ensure that employees participating in community services are appropriately accommodated.

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