Changes to long service leave entitlements
Changes to long service leave entitlements have recently been debated in parliament with the Long Service Leave Bill receiving royal assent on 8 May 2018. From 1 November 2018, unless proclaimed earlier the Long Service Leave Act 1992 (Vic), will be replaced by the Long Service Leave Act 2018 (Vic).
In a statement released by the Victorian Government Minister for Industrial Relations, Natalie Hutchins, described the changes to long service leave entitlements as “a huge win for women across Victoria.”
“We’re making long service leave fairer and more accessible for all Victorians, especially women, parents and carers... No one should be penalised for spending more time at home when their kids are born, or for changing their working hours to look after a loved one,” said Minister Hutchings.
So, what do the changes mean?
- Employees can now apply for access to pro rata Long Service Leave (LSL) entitlements after seven years of continuous service. This has increased from the previous 10 years of service requirement.
- Any period of paid and unpaid parental leave of up to 12 months will count as service for the purposes of LSL. No amount of parental leave will break the chain of ‘continuous employment’.
- If an employee is dismissed and re-employed within a 12-week period, the continuity of service will not be broken and thus will not affect LSL entitlements.
- LSL entitlements can now be taken one day at a time. This has changed from the current requirements that LSL’s first thirteen weeks may be taken in up to three separate periods, and subsequent LSL may be taken in two separate periods after each additional five years of service. These changes allow LSL to be taken more like annual leave entitlements. An employer can refuse LSL to be taken in this way if they can demonstrate on reasonable business grounds that the business would be adversely affected.
- LSL can now be calculated based on the hours of work an employee averaged out over the period of service rather than LSL being calculated on the employee’s current hours of work. This is a particularly favorable change for parents who have decreased their hours of work to accommodate family work-life balance.
- Failure to pay correct LSL by an employer under the new Act carries higher penalty and financial sanction.
Act favours families
The new Act creates greater flexibility and entitlements for employees, in particular employees with families and carer responsibilities.