Volunteer Protection Order

Summary

Special provisions to protect the employment of volunteers have been enacted due to the current fire situation across NSW.

Under the State Emergency and Rescue Management Act 1989, the Volunteer Protection Order allows for penalties for employers who victimise staff for being absent when they’re engaged in emergency operations. It applies to NSWRFS volunteers, and volunteer emergency workers from the NSW State Emergency Service, Fire and Rescue NSW, Ambulance Service of NSW and Volunteer Rescue NSW.

Under the Order, it is illegal for an employer to adversely change the employment arrangements of a volunteer who is covered by the order.

This includes staff who are terminated or have their position changed to their detriment while they’re engaged in operational activity.

The Order does not obligate employers to release employees or provide paid leave.

In most cases, where there is an issue or disagreement with an employer, these can be resolved through discussion or consultation.

The order relates to volunteers taking part in emergency operations in response to fires in NSW.

A number of orders have been made recently. On 11 November, a new order was made extending it to all areas across NSW for a period of 14 days unless revoked earlier.