How is Community Service Good for Business?

70% of Australian workers are willing to accept less pay to work for a company whose values are aligned with their own.
(Censuswide survey, accompanying LinkedIn’s Top Attractors list)

Attracting and retaining talented individuals is a challenge faced by many, if not most, businesses and increasingly it is the ‘intangibles’ you offer that can make all the difference. The 25 companies listed by LinkedIn as Top Attractors share the view that one of the critical factors Australian employees look for in their employer, along with flexibility, autonomy, meaning, leadership and potential for growth, is aligned values… and often, this translates as work practices that support corporate and community responsibility.

So, what does this mean for you and your employees?  Follow the steps below to understand your obligations and learn some simple and inexpensive initiatives you can implement to provide the intangible hook for current and prospective employees.

Step 1 - Clarify how values relate to community service

Ultimately, having aligned values means that you, as an employer, and your employees are in general agreement on what you both stand for, where you are heading, and how you will get there.  While this can encompass many aspects of the working relationship for many employees it means finding an employer who is supportive of, or open to supporting, the causes in which they believe. For some this may be cancer research, for others the RSPCA and for others it may mean being a member of their local volunteer fire brigade.

Step 2 - Understand employee Community Service entitlements

What are they?

Under the National Employment Standards (NES) eligible employees are entitled to be absent from work to engage in certain community service activities such as:

  • a voluntary emergency management activity (e.g. natural disaster); or
  • jury duty, including attendance for jury selection.

The NES also affords Defence Reservists certain rights and entitlements. 

How long?

There is no set limit on the amount of leave an employee is entitled to, provided the absence is considered to be reasonable.  Employees also have a responsibility to provide appropriate notice and/or evidence when accessing Community Service Leave for the above categories. 


Under the NES, community service leave taken to engage in a voluntary management activity is unpaid while eligible employees attending jury duty may be entitled to make-up pay.

Step 3 - Introduce initiatives to suit your business

In addition to legislated Community Service entitlements, many larger organisations have introduced structured programs contributing to nominated community causes. However, there are some simple initiatives you can introduce that require little management on your part and have a relatively big impact on your employees and the causes they care about:

Facilitate Workplace Giving - where employees can make pre-tax deductions from their pay to donate to an agreed charity;

Actively support employee participation in fund-raising events (e.g. City to Surf, Cancer Council’s Biggest Morning Tea, JDRF Walk for a Cure etc.) - this could take the form of matching funds raised by employees, covering registration costs, providing facilities etc.

Allow time off for volunteering for other non-emergency community or charitable activities - this can be paid or unpaid; and/or

Demonstrate a positive attitude within the workplace toward participation in community/charity events.

What are the benefits to encouraging Community Service Leave and/or causes?

Demonstrating to your employees you care about the same things they do can reap many benefits including, but not limited to:

  • a positive culture and high levels of employee engagement;
  • strong employer brand, increasing your ability to attract quality candidates;
  • maintained and improved productivity through the retention of valued employees;
  • promotional and branding opportunities; and
  • demonstrated corporate, and personal, responsibility.

So how do I get started?

Talk to your employees.  Values are, by definition, unique and personal and to ensure your values are aligned with those of your employees, find out what matters to them and tailor initiatives that are mutually acceptable.  

As well as demonstrating that your business is a good corporate citizen, the tangible benefits of actively supporting your employees in their altruistic endeavours, makes good business sense.

Contact WCA- People & Culture Solutions if you require any assistance with your Culture, Human Resources and/ or Industrial Relations requirements on (08) 9383 3293 or


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