Reading time: 3 minutes

Under the National Employment Standards (NES), employees are entitled to different types of leave, depending on their employment status. These are annual leave, parental leave, personal or carer’s leave, community service leave and long service leave.

An employee who engages in an eligible community service activity is entitled to be absent from her or his employment for a period of time. The period of time is not specified (compare this with compassionate leave, which is limited to two days for each occasion it is required) and is not restricted to permanent employees.

The question is whether an employee can access community service leave to participate in a charitable pursuit – walking 100km for charity as part of the OXFAM Trailwalker and participating in the City2Surf to raise funds for breast cancer for example. Participating in these events is often the culmination of months of preparation, extensive fundraising and employees appreciate receiving an employer’s support (whether financial or otherwise). However, the question is whether the Fair Work Act 2009 includes these kinds of activities in the definition of ‘community service’.

What is an ‘eligible community service activity’?

To be eligible for community service leave, an employee must be participating in an ‘eligible community service activity’.

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) defines eligible community service activity to include only a few activities. These include:

  • jury service (including attendance for jury selection) required by a Commonwealth or State or Territory law; or
  • a voluntary emergency management activity.

So, for participation in an event, such as the OXFAM trailwalker, to allow an employee to be eligible for community service leave, it must be either jury service or a voluntary emergency management activity. Jury service is clearly out.

Is walking 100km for charity a ‘voluntary emergency management activity’?

The Fair Work Act defines this kind of activity as an activity that involves dealing with an emergency or a natural disaster. An employee must be engaging in the activity on a voluntary basis and the employee must also be a member of an organisation which is a recognised emergency management body (such as the SES).

On this basis, walking 100km for charity would be unlikely to fall under the definition of a ‘voluntary emergency management activity’ by any objective standards. However, this conclusion may change if there is a donut or block of chocolate waiting at the end of 100km, in which case reaching these essential items would become an emergency matter.

Conclusion

Perhaps it’s best to consider that your participation in this kind of event is an achievement in itself and if your employer is supporting you financially, you should be grateful they’re facilitating your participation. If you need more advice on the various forms of leave and whether you are entitled to take advantage of them, get in touch with the employment lawyers here at LegalVision.

Webinars

Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

Thursday 7 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
If you plan on making a role redundant, it is crucial that you understand your employer obligations. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Sponsor Foreign Workers For Your Tech Business

Wednesday 13 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Need web3 talent for your tech business? Consider sponsoring workers from overseas. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Advertising 101: Social Media, Influencers and the Law

Thursday 21 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how to promote your business on social media without breaking the law. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Structuring for Certainty in Uncertain Times

Tuesday 26 July | 12:00 - 12:45pm

Online
Learn how to structure to weather storm and ensure you can take advantage of the “green shoots” opportunities arising on the other side of a recession.
Register Now

Playing for the Prize: How to Run Trade Promotions

Thursday 28 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Running a promotion with a prize? Your business has specific trade promotion obligations. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Web3 Essentials: Understanding SAFT Agreements

Tuesday 2 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how SAFT Agreements can help your Web3 business when raising capital. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

Understanding Your Annual Franchise Update Obligations

Wednesday 3 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Franchisors must meet annual reporting obligations each October. Understand your legal requirements by registering for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Legal Essentials for Product Manufacturers

Thursday 11 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
As a product manufacturer, do you know your legal obligations if there is a product recall? Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Chloe Sevil
Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards