Long service leave in Australia: an examination of the options for a national long service leave minimum standard
Long service leave is an employment condition that provides paid leave to employees who serve an employer over a long period of time without a break in service. A common feature of long service leave is continuous service with an employer, which then entitles an employee to paid leave as a reward for their service. This means that in most jurisdictions the leave is generally not portable and is lost when transferring between employers. This paper will explore the long service leave entitlements for national system employees that currently exist in state and territory long service leave legislation in Australia and in selected key pre-reform instruments that have broad application in the various jurisdictions. The paper will not examine the situation relating to non-national system employees. In particular, it will not discuss the non-national system employees in Western Australia as a result of the Western Australian government not referring the relevant powers to the Commonwealth government. The current long service leave entitlements vary in Australia because there are eight legislative frameworks relating to long service leave operating across the various states and territories. This makes the existing long service leave provisions in Australia highly complex and prescriptive for non-lawyers such as employers and employees. This paper will contend that a nationally consistent long service leave minimum standard would be a desirable outcome in Australia as it will ensure that all employees are rewarded for long term service with an employer and will provide employees with a paid break from work while maintaining job tenure. The various options for the national standard are examined in detail within the current long service leave environment.