Supporting the release of community service volunteers and Defence Reservists
The Australian Government supports employees participating in emergency services duties and Defence Force Reserve activities. The Government therefore expects that APS agencies will lead the way in employment policies and practices which support the release of community service personnel for emergency services duties and Defence Reservists for peacetime training and deployment.
APS agencies may determine their own approach to these employment practices provided they remain consistent with the broader Government policy of support for these functions.
In acknowledgement of the Government's objectives in this area, agencies are encouraged to promote the benefits of community service and Defence Reserve service to their employees.
APS agencies should note their obligations to provide community service leave in accordance with the requirements of the National Employment Standards. Agencies should also cater for unpaid leave to community service personnel for emergency services duties encompassing leave for regular training, all emergency services responses, reasonable recovery time and ceremonial duties.
Defence Reserves Support Council
The Defence Reserves Support Council (DRSC) has developed a public sector leave policy which it recommends to Australian Government employers. Specifically, the DRSC recommends that agencies:
- provide four weeks (20 working days or 28 calendar days) leave on full pay each year for Reservists undertaking Defence service;
- provide an additional two weeks paid leave to allow for a Reservists' attendance at recruit/initial employment training;
- provide scope for additional leave for Defence service, either on a paid, unpaid or top-up pay basis;
- not require Reservists to pay their tax-free Reserve salary to their agency in any circumstances;
- allow Defence leave entitlements to accumulate and be taken over a two year period;
- treat leave for Defence service, whether with or without pay or on top-up pay, as service for all purposes — the exception being that a period or periods of leave without pay in excess of six months not count as service for annual leave purposes;
- provide Reservists with continued access to other components of their remuneration package during periods of Defence service, for example: superannuation (subject to the rules of the CSS, PSS and Military Superannuation and Benefits Scheme), studies assistance, salary reviews and cars;
- keep Reservists informed of developments in the workplace while the Reservists are undertaking training or are on deployment.
More broadly, the Australian Government strongly encourages APS agencies to actively promote the benefits of Reserve service to their employees. Defence Reserves Support communication employees can assist agencies with promotional material.
These arrangements are consistent with the Government's commitment to supporting Reserve service. The Government therefore supports agencies implementing arrangements along these lines through their workplace arrangements.
In recognition of the potential impact of Defence service on employers, the Australian Defence Force has undertaken to provide agencies, whenever possible, with at least three months' notice of a requirement for a Reservist to undertake Defence service. Agencies may also require Reservists to provide written evidence of their attendance for Defence service.
APS agencies are eligible to receive the Employer Support Payment (ESP). The ESP Scheme provides a financial benefit to those employers who provide leave, other than normal paid leave entitlements (e.g. annual leave), to Reservists to undertake peacetime training and deployment. Under the ESP Scheme an employer is eligible to receive the ESP once a Reservist has completed 14 days continuous Reserve service in any financial year. The qualifying period can be undertaken as a single period or as multiple periods of continuous Defence Service, as long as each period of continuous Defence Service is a minimum of five consecutive days.
Further information on the ESP, including assistance in developing Reserve service promotional material, can be obtained by contacting the DRSC: www.defencereserves.com.