The Fair Work Act (FW Act) provides that all employees, including casual employees, are entitled to be absent from work for the purposes of performing the following community service activities:
An employee engages in a voluntarily emergency management activity if they:
For the purpose of the FW Act a recognised emergency management body is:
There is no limit on the period of time an employee is entitled to be absent from his employment on community service. The period of absence includes:
An employee who will be absent on a community service, must as soon as practical give their employer notice of the intended absence and its expected duration.
Other than jury duty, attendance on community service is unpaid leave. However, the period of absence does not break an employee’s continuity of service as an employee and no other penalty may be imposed upon an employee who participates in community service.
Whilst the FW Act does provide for jury duty, its provisions are not as beneficial as the requirements of the Juries Act 1957 (Juries Act), which applies in Western Australia. Under that Juries Act, all employers in Western Australia are required to release their employees, without penalty, to attend for jury duty and to continue to pay the employees’ wages whilst they attend for jury duty.
An employer may make a claim for the reimbursement of those wages once the employee has completed the jury duty. However, reimbursement will only be for the time that the employee is required to attend for jury duty, that is either the selection process (half a day) or serving as a member of a jury (length of the trial).
Thus, an employer should also only pay for the time the employee is required to attend for jury duty. The employee should be advised that if they are not chosen to serve as a juror, they must return to work or they will not be paid.
Failure by an employer to release an employee to attend for jury duty or pay the employee for that time is a breach of the Juries Act, with a maximum fine of $20,000.
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