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Long service leave in Australia

Background to portable long service leave schemes in Australia

Long service leave authorities in other jurisdictions

The Authority has developed close working relationships with its counterpart authorities in other Australian jurisdictions such as the Long Service Leave Authority established under the Long Service Leave (Portable Schemes) Act 2009 (ACT), a Scheme similar to Victoria’s Scheme operating in the Australian Capital Territory.

During 2019–20, the Authority will look to formalise arrangements through reciprocal arrangements which will enable workers of the respective Schemes to move eligible benefits more seamlessly between different Australian States and Territories.

Background to portable long service leave schemes in Australia

Paid long service leave is unique to Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, long service leave has been part of the Australian workplace since the 1860s when it was introduced to allow senior public servants to return to their home country once a decade as a reward for a long period of loyal service with one employer. The extension of long service leave to the private sector occurred in the 1940s through inclusion in private sector awards with entitlements created through the processes of conciliation and arbitration.

As this traditional characteristic of long service leave made it available only to certain employees who remained with a single employer for a significant amount of time, portability schemes developed in industries where there were unique employment arrangements. This allowed eligible workers continuity in accruing long service leave despite the fact that they may not have spent the mandated length of time with a single employer.

Portability is seen as particularly important for workers in industries whose nature means that workers do not usually work for a single employer for long periods of time but who may be employed over many years on a project basis, or in some other way routine to that industry.1

Portable long service leave exists in all states and territories in Australia, with the ACT and Victoria including the most industries. 

The Portable Long Service Leave Scheme for the construction industry in Victoria is administered by CoINVEST.

1 Source: Report of the inquiry into the feasibility of, and options for, creating a national long service standard, and the portability of long service leave and other entitlements (26 February 2016), Chapter 2. 

Reviewed 28 October 2019

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