Long service leave
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Long service leave is an additional employee vacation payable after long periods of service with an employer in Australia and New Zealand. Long service leave was introduced in Australia in the 1860s. The idea was to allow civil servants the opportunity to sail home to England after 10 years’ service in ‘the colonies’. It was 13 weeks for every ten years of service, composed of five weeks to sail back to England, three weeks of leave and five weeks to sail back.
It remains one of the great entitlements for working Australians and one that is peculiar to the Australian labour market. The rules governing long service leave entitlements vary for different employees depending on their circumstances and their jurisdiction. Currently, annual leave entitlements are covered by the state or territory law in which the employee is employed.
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, less on a pro rata basis, the longer they stay with that employer.
Long Service Leave entitlements by State and Territory:
ACT: 6.066 weeks on full pay after each period of 7 years continuous service.
NSW: 8.6667 weeks on full pay after each period of 10 years continuous service.
WA: 8.6667 weeks on full pay after each period of 10 years continuous service.
SA: 13 Weeks on full pay after each period of 10 years continuous service.
QLD: 8.6667 weeks on full pay after each period of 10 years continuous service.
NT: 13 weeks on full pay after each period of 10 years continuous service.
TAS: 13 weeks on full pay in respect of the first 15 years continuous service and 8.6667 weeks in respect of every subsequent 10 years continuous service. (For mining workers, the entitlement is 13 weeks in respect of every 10 years of continuous service.
VIC: 8.6667 weeks on full pay after each period of 10 years continuous service.
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 construction, coal-mining, contract-cleaning industries and 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 done mostly through specific legislated schemes which employers in those industries pay into, and which administer the funds for employees.
Long service leave is a benefit peculiar to Australia and New Zealand (and possibly some public servants in India) and relates to their colonial heritage. There is a similar system of sabbatical leaves also in Finland. 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. It is often not taken when it falls due, leading to calls to reduce long-service entitlement in the public sector.
Review: The Australian Senate has recently moved to inquire into portable long service leave schemes. The inquiry will be conducted by the Education and Employment References Committee.
The committee will have the challenging tasks of determining how portable schemes might be structured and what role the Australian Federal Government might play in helping to establish a scheme.
The committee will also have to evaluate the effect that the differing State long service entitlements will have on a national scheme, as the current state based long service leave provisions are all practically different.
As of 11 November 2015 the committee had yet to meet and set dates for submissions and reporting etc., as nearly half of the members have been away on long service leave.
- "Flexibility in Long Service Leave" (PDF). Labour Ministers Council Research Papers. www.deewr.gov.au. May 1999. Retrieved 2010-07-27.
- "Home – Long Service Corporation". Long Service Corporation. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
- "European Labour Law Network". Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- 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