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Do you know your long service leave?

February 4, 2016


Are you ready for your employee to request long service leave?

While long service leave is the leave which can be predicted with the most certainty, it is often not thought about until it’s too late. An employee knocks on your door and reminds you that they’ve been with you for ten years. Has it really been that long, you ask yourself? The employee requests their long service leave. Ah. That. That thing which you never thought about because it was always so far into the future.

Or maybe you are familiar with granting long service leave, but have recently moved or expanded into another state. Whatever your story, it is important to make sure you are keeping up to date with how long service leave works.

So what do I need to know?

The most significant thing to remember about long service leave is that, unlike many aspects of employment relations, it is state and territory based. That means that it is different depending on where your business is located, and the entitlements come from state laws rather than the Fair Work Act.

But can it really be that different? Absolutely. There is a huge variation in employee entitlements to long service leave across Australia. For each state or territory in which you are located, you should ensure that you know:

  • How long an employee must work with you before they are entitled to long service leave. While it is the most common length of time, it is not always ten years of service.
  • If the employee can access their long service leave early, and in what circumstances. Employees are usually entitled to be paid out their long service leave if their employment is terminated before the usual length of service, at a pro-rata rate.
  • How much long service leave is granted. While roughly similar, each state sets its own period of time.
  • What payments should be made to employees on long service leave. It is usually the employee’s ordinary pay rate, which does not include allowances, loadings, penalty rates or overtime.
  • How many periods the long service leave can be taken in. Some states set limits, such as forcing it to be taken in either one or two separate periods, while others allow for mutual agreement between the employer and employee.
  • Whether casual employees are entitled to access long service leave.

What else do I need to think about?

Some industries, such as the building and construction industry, allow for “portable long service leave” which means that employees accrue their long service leave even if they work for different employers.

This is governed by a separate piece of legislation, specific to the industry. Call your HR Assured advisory team to check whether you fall into one of these industries.

Also note that if your employees are covered by an Enterprise Agreement, they may have different entitlements to those under the state laws. You should check your Agreement to see if it includes a long service leave provision.

What is my next step?

Don’t wait until the last minute. Make sure that you are aware of your long service leave obligations now, so that you are prepared to deal with it when the time comes. After all, if you don’t know your long service leave, how would you even recognise when the “time comes” at all?

For more information on long service leave and what this means for you, clients should contact the HR Assured team. If you’d like more information about the benefits of becoming an HR Assured client contact us today for an informal chat.