Long service leave review: can it be fairer for family-work balance?

By The Mandarin

February 16, 2016

The unique Australian employment condition of long service leave is being reviewed — at least in Victoria.

Don’t panic, your public service LSL isn’t at risk. But it might be made fairer for workers who take time off or work part-time to care for children, as well as public servants who take breaks to gain private sector experience.

discussion paper produced by Industrial Relations Victoria says the LSL has benefits for staff retention rates and balancing work-life balance, but that wasn’t its early justification: “It has its origins in colonial days, when long-serving senior public servants were given up to six months paid leave to visit England.”

Now, most Australian workers, not just senior public servants, have access to LSL, but there remains concerns that its use isn’t fair. There have been many changes such as increased female participation, particularly for longer periods, higher rates of under-employment, greater casualisation, especially amongst younger works and the possibility of home-based work, aided by technology changes.

IRV have come up with some options for making LSL fairer:

  1. Allow employers and employees to agree that leave be taken in separate periods.
  2. Allow for accrued LSL to be cashed-out.
  3. Allow pro rata LSL to be taken after seven years’ service.
  4. Paying employees who go on LSL the same as what they would ordinarily receive if they were still at work, eg for weekend workers.
  5. Calculate the hours worked over the life of the employment period, rather than just the most recent weekly hours.
  6. Treat family leave, whether paid or unpaid, as service.
  7. Count interruptions for casual and seasonal employees towards continuous employment requirements.

Comments and questions are encouraged, via lsl.yoursay@ecodev.vic.gov.au by April 1.

There is a separate inquiry into portability of long service leave to be conducted as Joint Investigative Committee of the Victorian Parliament, due to report by May 1. IRV’s review will not cover portability.

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