Long service leave
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In Australia, unlike many other countries, employees are generally entitled to additional leave, known as long service leave, over and above their annual leave if they stay with a particular employer for a certain length of time. A common entitlement in Australia is that employees who remain with a particular employer for ten years will receive an entitlement of eight and two-thirds weeks' (two calendar months) paid leave and more on a pro-rata basis the longer they stay with that employer. This amount was originally thirteen weeks (three months) after fifteen years in most states until recent years. In the Australian Capital Territory, an employee is entitled to pro-rata long service leave after seven years.
There has been a debate in Australia about the protection of employee entitlements (including long service leave) in the event of employer insolvency, with some high-profile cases involving employees losing benefits that had been accrued.
Within a limited number of industries, such as the construction industry, the coal-mining industry, the contract-cleaning industry or within the public sector, it is possible to transfer long-service leave entitlements from one employer to another, as long as the employee remains in the same state. Known as portable long service leave this is mostly done through specific legislated schemes which employers in those industries pay into, and which administer the funds for employees.
Long service leave is a benefit unique to Australia and New Zealand (and possibly some public servants in India) and relates to their colonial heritage. Long service leave developed from the concept of furlough, which stems from the Dutch word verlof (meaning leave) and its usage originates in leave granted from military service.
In the 19th century, furlough as a benefit as it is now known, was a privilege granted by legislation to the colonial and Indian Services. In Australia, the benefits were first granted to Victorian and South Australian civil servants. The nature of the leave allowed civil servants to sail 'home' to England, safe in the knowledge that they were able to return to their positions upon their return to Australia.
The concept spread beyond the public service over the period 1950 to 1975, mainly as a result of pressure from employees seeking comparability with the public service.
Nowadays, long service leave is ingrained in Australian culture and is specified by state based and some federal legislation. Interestingly, it is often not taken when it falls due, leading to calls to reduce long-service entitlement in the public sector.
- "Flexibility in Long Service Leave". Labour Ministers Council Research Papers. www.deewr.gov.au. May 1999. Retrieved 2010-07-27.
- Parliament Australian Capital Territory. "Long Service Leave Act 1976" (PDF). ACT Parliamentary Counsel. p. 43. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
- "Home – Long Service Corporation". Long Service Corporation. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
- Emerson, Daniel (4 October 2012). "Workers told to take holidays". The West Australian. Yahoo!7 News. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
- NSW Office of Industrial Relations website
- Wageline information for Queensland employees
- Portable long service leave website for the Building & Construction Industry and Contract Cleaning Industry
- Federal Government Employee Entitlements page