The association has put together the short summary of employment protection measures below to provide information and assurance to members who are anxious about potential fallout from volunteering at major incidents.
Please contact us if you would like further information or need assistance in these matters.
The Emergency Management Act 2005 provides certain protections for employees who are absent from work to carry out an emergency management response.
Key elements of the Act:
- If a volunteer is asked to, or would reasonably expect to have been asked to, respond to an emergency by an emergency management agency, they are given protections for their employment under the Act. NOTE: This ONLY applies to response activities, not prevention or recovery.
- For the purpose of calculating leave entitlements, the continuity of service of an employee is to be taken not to have been broken only by the employee’s absence because they were volunteering as above.
- An employer must pay the normal wages of an employee who was absent because they were responding to an emergency as defined in (1).
- An employee must not be victimised because they were temporarily absent to carry out an emergency management response. Victimisation includes dismissal, demotion, refusal to promote, does not pay the above entitlements or otherwise negatively impacts the employee.
- If a volunteer feels like they have been adversely affected because they were responding to an emergency, either the volunteer or the association can take legal action.
- If the Court agrees that a volunteer has been victimised for responding to an emergency, it can order the employer to reinstate the person if they were dismissed and/or compensation for any loss suffered as a result of the victimisation.
The bottom line:
If a Bush Fire Volunteer is asked by their LGA or DFES, or would reasonably have expected to be asked, to RESPOND to an emergency, their employer must pay them normally and not do anything to negatively affect their employment for the time they are absent for that RESPONSE activity.
If you are a volunteer with concerns of this nature, please get in touch for a confidential conversation and the association will do all we can to help.