The Portable Long Service Benefits Authority (the Authority) is an independent statutory body established to administer the Long Service Benefits Portability Act 2018 (the Act). The Act, together with the Long Service Benefits Portability Regulations 2020 (the Regulations), provides a scheme for the portability of long service benefits to eligible workers in the community services, contract cleaning and security industries.
The Portable Long Service Benefits Scheme (the Scheme) enables eligible workers to accrue long service benefits based on the length of time employed in their respective industry, rather than the length of time employed by one employer.
The Authority maintains registers of covered employers and workers and is responsible for the collection of levies and overseeing the payment of benefits.
The Authority also has regulatory and enforcement powers exercisable by the Registrar and/or Authorised Officers.
- monitoring powers to ensure compliance with provisions of the legislations as well as ensuring the accuracy of the information provided to the Authority
- the power to compel information during investigations and enquiries
- investigative powers, which can be used to gather materials that relate to the contravention of an offence
- commencing civil proceedings to recover unpaid levies and/or pursuing criminal proceedings against those who fail to comply with their obligations under the Scheme or who breach the Act.
Coercive powers, including monitoring and investigative powers are used by the Authority to ensure compliance with provisions of legislation.
Enforcement powers are typically only used by the Authority where coercive powers have been used and the Registrar is satisfied that the use of such enforcement powers is appropriate.
Delivering a quality Portable Long Service Benefits Scheme to protect the benefits of those who are entitled to them.
Administering an effective Portable Long Service Benefits Scheme through prudent, sustainable investment and supporting all stakeholders – including employers and workers alike – as well as educating and enforcing every stakeholder’s role and interest in the Scheme.
The Authority has adopted the Victorian Public Sector values, which underpin the behaviours that the government and community rightly expect of it. Acting consistently with these values strengthens the Authority’s capacity to operate effectively and achieve our objectives. These values are:
- Responsiveness - We are approachable and provide timely, useful and accurate information.
- Integrity - We have unbiased and honest interactions.
- Impartiality - We are firm and consistent in our application of the law.
- Accountability - We fulfil our objectives in a clear, transparent and responsible manner.
- Respect - We respect our stakeholders, each other and ourselves.
- Leadership - We seek to have a positive influence and to empower others.
- Human rights - We administer the law and deliver decisions and support everyone’s human rights.
Chair and Chief Executive Officer / Registrar’s Report
On behalf of the Governing Board, we are pleased to present the Annual Report of the Portable Long Service Authority for the financial year ended 30 June 2022.
The Authority, which manages the Schemes for the community services, contract cleaning and security sectors, has matured and grown into an established, successful entity in the short space of just 3 years.
A major highlight of the past year has been the registration of the 200,000th worker with the Authority, who describes himself as a “hard-working Shepparton-based community services worker”. This registration of the Authority’s 200,000th worker was acknowledged in an address to Victoria’s Parliament by the Minister for Industrial Relations, Tim Pallas MP. In recognising the achievement of the Authority, the Minister added that “portable long service leave is a victory for fairness in industries where people have often moved between jobs because they’ve had little choice”.
We are pleased to observe that the acceptance and embrace of the Scheme by employers has been more far-reaching than just simple long service leave entitlements. Staff shortages brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has seen employers develop a greater appreciation of their workforce. Employers now perceive the Scheme as an incentive to attract, acquire and retain valued staff members.
As custodians of almost $230 million in worker entitlements as at 30 June 2022, we also understand our responsibilities to safeguard and monitor worker entitlement investments as well as to make prudent investment decisions. We do this by working closely with the Victorian Government’s Investment Manager, Victorian Funds Management Corporation, as well as the Scheme’s actuary to ensure that returns are maximised especially against the current volatile investment market background.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for a second year has also once again tested the resilience of the staff working at the Authority.
The dedication and adaptability of the Authority’s staff in dealing with rapidly changing work environments during unprecedented, challenging times remains exemplary. The Authority’s head office in Bendigo continues to thrive with staff adapting well to the end of lockdowns and transition back to the office environment. Our staff have embraced the team camaraderie of being together and the intrinsic value of engaging face-to-face with each other. Bendigo remains home to the majority of the Authority’s staff and as an organisation, we are proud to have established ourselves as a valued member of the local community.
Our efforts in the coming year will include an enhanced focus on compliance, education, and enforcement, particularly for employers who are yet to register with the Authority. We aim to help these employers understand the value of affording their workers portable long service benefits. Additionally, we aim to extend and concentrate efforts on the registration of contract cleaning and National Disability Insurance Scheme employers.
This year we also announced the departure of two Governing Board members: Linda White who resigned on 5 April 2022, and Kate Marshall whose term concluded on 7 April 2022. We acknowledge their valuable contribution and commitment to the Authority during their three-year tenure.
Lastly, we as a collective team are excited for the future of the Authority as we build our people, systems and processes towards receiving the first eligible worker claim for their portable long service leave benefits.
Chair, Governing Board
Chief Executive Officer / Registrar
Role and functions
The Authority has several key roles and functions including:
- Registration of employers
- Registration of workers
- Accuracy of registers of covered employers and workers
- Administration of claims and benefits.
- Collection of funds
- Investment of funds
- Management of funds.
Education and enforcement
- Consultation with employers and workers
- Working with industries affected by decisions made under the Act
- Resolving disputes as to the timing of taking a period of leave (applicable to workers in contract cleaning and security industries)
- Enforcement of legislation and associated powers.
Statement of Expectations
The Authority continues to deliver on the Minister for Industrial Relations’ Statement of Expectations dated 7 July 2020 (as published on the Authority’s website) and as set out in the Registrar’s response to the Minister dated 3 August 2020.
The Authority’s Statement of Expectations is aligned to the Victorian Government’s commitment to reduce the administrative burden of regulation as well as promote greater efficiency and effectiveness in the administration and enforcement of regulation.
This report contains further information on our progress towards meeting the key priorities in the Statement of Expectations.
Year in Review
|Registered Workers: 228,767||Community services:
150,137 (119,288 last year)
54,033 (39,368 last year)
24,597 (19,304 last year)
|Registered Employers: 2,875||
(2,347 workers other/not provided)
|Engagement||Outbound calls: 11,922
Emails received: 14,257
Website visits: 205,000
Email newsletter subscribers: 3,911
From employers: 5,053
(97% of all calls answered within 3 minutes)
|Submitted Quarterly Returns||13,332|
|Social Media||Facebook engagement up 106%
LinkedIn followers up 40.25%
Worker profile – Linda Saari
For many people, travel is a life-changing experience and that was certainly the case for Linda Saari.
When the adventurous twenty-something left her native England for a back-packing holiday around Australia, she never thought that distant continent would become her permanent home. Whilst in Sydney, Linda met her future husband. The couple moved to Bendigo, her husband’s hometown, where they are raising two children.
Linda was a stay-at-home parent before deciding to look for part-time work. Through a friend at a local university campus, she found a job cleaning the residential student dormitories which house Australian and overseas students.
It has been 9 years since Linda began work at the Bendigo campus. Initially, she only worked during school hours. However, with the children growing up it is now a full-time role working 9 to 5, Monday-to-Friday.
Various companies have held the cleaning contract at the university, which is usually for a 3-year period. Linda has worked for 3 different companies in that time.
When a different company wins the tender, Linda endures an unsettling three-month work trial period before being presented with a contract.
“The job always feels secure until the next contract comes along, then it’s a waiting game as you don’t know if you will be offered your old position,” said Linda.
In addition to the insecurity of the job, contract cleaners such as Linda were excluded from long service leave benefits.
However, that changed for Linda and thousands of Victorian workers from July 2019 following legislation which created the Portable Long Service Benefits Scheme.
Linda is grateful for the existence of the Scheme and the benefits to workers such as herself and would like more workers who may be registered with the Authority to stay up to date with their registration.
“Their employers have done the right thing in registering their staff, but the workers may not be aware of their employer’s good intentions,” Linda added.
Linda’s comments echo the Authority’s focus on educating employers about their legal obligations to register with the Authority, along with ensuring they communicate to staff about their involvement in the Scheme.
What will Linda do with her portable long service benefit after 7 years in the contract cleaning industry?
“I can’t wait to travel back to England to see my family and friends.”
Celebrating 200,000 registered workers
The Authority achieved a significant milestone with the registration of 200,000 workers during the past financial year.
The registration accomplishment was highlighted by a media conference in Victoria’s parliamentary gardens featuring the Minister for Industrial Relations, the Hon Tim Pallas, supported by Authority Chief Executive Officer Joseph Yeung. Registered employers and workers were also in attendance.
The media conference on 10 February 2022 attracted national television and state-wide radio coverage.
“It is a major achievement that so many Victorians can look forward to the benefits of long service in the future, something which they had been denied in the past,” Mr Pallas told the gathered media.
At the time the Authority achieved 200,000 registered workers, approximately 136,000 workers were from the community services industry, 45,000 workers from the contract cleaning industry and 19,000 workers from the security industry.
Employer registrations have also steadily risen with positive indications that employers consider the Scheme is of benefit in attracting and retaining valued staff.
When the Scheme was launched in July 2019, it was not anticipated that the Authority would hit the 200,000 milestone in such a brief time frame.
Meet Ethan Rowley – 200,000th registered worker
Ethan Rowley never thought he would be in the spotlight.
The Shepparton resident is happy and content in his job at WDEA Works which he commenced in September last year.
WDEA Works, which is a not-for-profit organisation that helps people with a disability find employment, registered Ethan with the Authority soon after he began working there.
That registration proved to be a milestone event as Ethan became the 200,000th worker to be signed up with the Authority.
Authority Chief Executive Officer, Joseph Yeung, congratulated Ethan on his unexpected achievement adding that he and the other 199,999 registered workers can also look forward to portable long service benefits which were never available to them before the scheme began in 2019.
Ethan is a member of the Student Leaver Employment Support (SLES) section of the organisation where he works with young people with various disabilities who are currently in their last year of school or have recently left school.
“I help them develop individual skills in one-onone sessions, social skills in group sessions and visits to various industries within the community that they are interested in working,” said Ethan.
Before commencing at WDEA Works, Ethan worked nightshift for 13 years at a supermarket stocking shelves. He enjoyed the camaraderie of the team, which is something he feels his current job with WDEA Works also offers.
“Also, the young people I am helping are all so amazing. Every day it’s something new and an exciting challenge,” he added.
WDEA Works Chief Executive Officer, Tom Scarborough said, “we’re always looking for ways to attract, retain and reward our employees. We couldn’t do the important work we do without having great people in our organisation.”
“Thinking outside of our organisation and to the wider industry in which we operate, the Portable Long Service Benefits Scheme provides incentives for valued workers to remain within the industry,” added Mr Scarborough.
Asked what he planned to do with the portable long service leave benefits, Ethan said, “I haven’t even begun to think what might happen six years from now. I hope I’m still doing the good work this company lets me do and seeing the people I’ve worked with continue to grow.”
“Or maybe a holiday, who knows?”
A job well done Ethan.
The Corporate Governance and Secretariat business unit is responsible for establishing good governance, ensuring comprehensive risk management practices as well as facilitating the efficient and effective running of the Governing Board and Audit and Risk Committee.
The Customer Service and Operations business unit is the largest business unit within the Authority and delivers our core registry and enforcement functions by engaging with employers and workers to support them to fulfil their obligations and understand their rights.
The Financial Services business unit underpins our operations, and the Head of Finance has specific responsibilities under the Financial Management Act 1994. Performance monitoring, responsible budgeting, and a robust investment strategy ensures that the entitlements of registered workers are managed prudently and helps to ensure the sustainability of the Scheme.
The Facilities, Information and Technology business unit underpins our core operations and manages key vendors which support our network infrastructure and telephony systems. Having the best systems in place enable us to be efficient and effective in delivering on our functions.
The People and Culture business unit supports the growth and development of our people and culture. Our people are our greatest asset. Without our people, we have no capability to fulfil our statutory obligations under the Act.
The Communications and Engagement business unit leads communications, identification of, and engagement with key stakeholders. The business unit also leads internal and external education activities to ensure that employers understand and can meet their obligations while workers are aware of their rights.
The Legal business unit provides practical legal advice that advances the Authority’s objectives whilst being consistent with the law and regulatory environment. The unit provides both in-house commercial legal advice as well as advice on the Authority’s regulatory operations.
Employer profile – Deaf Chef Ross
There are some people in this world who are an inspiration to others. One of those people is Ross Onley-Zerkel.
Ross is the passionate creator and driven individual behind Deaf Chef Ross, which is an online and social phenomenon producing cooking programs in Auslan (Australian Sign Language) to encourage deaf people to cook and eat healthy food.
The journey for Ross towards setting up his company was through a difficult personal experience. Ross was stricken with psoriasis, a debilitating skin condition with severe flare-ups. After years of medical advice and various medications, Ross was advised that the disease is incurable.
The impact of his skin condition led Ross to endure low self-esteem and periods of depression.
His search for a self-cure led him to investigate if there was any correlation between his diet and the skin ailment. He also studied medicinal foods which led to the discovery that raw apple cider vinegar was beneficial for him.
After months of careful diet maintenance, his psoriasis and his self-esteem improved dramatically.
Combining his passion for cooking and a desire to inspire other deaf people to appreciate food, Deaf Chef Ross was born.
The major component of the fledgling business is a series of online programs including Learn to cook, Healthy cooking, Talk about food and Plan your meals. There are also workshops for groups or organisations who want to have a cooking class, cooking demonstration or simply talk about healthy eating.
Deaf Chef Ross is a registered employer with the Authority.
“I think it is a brilliant idea. Looking back in my younger years working at various organisations, I would have loved to have this opportunity. Now we have it, it will benefit many of us especially my staff knowing that there is money available for when they take long service leave,” said Ross.
“Being portable, it is much easier for employers to contribute money from different places if the employee has more than one job,” he added.
Ross remains committed to his deaf clients and ensuring his own staff are well looked after.
The Authority’s primary objectives are to:
- Fulfil our legislative obligations by effectively administering the Long Service Benefits Portability Act 2018.
- Implement effective, responsible budget and investment strategies which grow levy funds and deliver long-term sustainability.
- Be clear, consistent, transparent and responsive in our stakeholder communications to encourage registration and levy payments and ensure that eligible workers and employers are aware of their rights and obligations.
- Maintain a healthy and safe workplace with a culture that encourages engaged, resilient and solution-focussed staff.
- Maintain an innovative secure, resilient and integrated information technology environment that supports effective operations now and into the future.
- Protect the long-term interests of the Authority through effective regulation using governance, strategic risk management and clear policies and procedures.
A people-powered cleaning business
Bendigo Professional Cleaning Service began operating in November 2015 after Jessica Johnson identified an opening in the Bendigo region for a company to provide high quality cleaning.
The company has grown into a successful business providing a broad range of domestic and commercial cleaning services, even including solar panel cleaning and pest control.
One of the most specialised services the company provides is crime scene cleaning.
There are two sides to crime scene cleaning. The first is the difficult and emotionally draining forensic cleaning after a death, with the welfare of staff being closely monitored in these situations.
“You can be filled with emotions when cleaning a deceased estate. As you are cleaning their home you gather small insights into their lives, looking at framed photos and other personal touches. It’s sad knowing they are no longer around,” Jessica said.
The other side to crime scene cleaning is illegal drug laboratory decontamination.
As Jessica explains, “drug laboratories can be found anywhere, in hotels, restaurants, garages, storage units, caravans, in homes and rental properties. Whatever area has been used for the clandestine lab, the entire scene requires a thorough decontamination due to the toxic chemicals involved in the drug making process.”
As company owner and managing director, Jessica has found the most difficult component of creating and maintaining a successful business is finding the right people to employ and keeping them.
“Our employees are the backbone of our business. We pay them above the award rate because we believe that each one of them is worth it and we do this to keep them with us,” said Jessica.
On their website, Bendigo Professional Cleaning Service highlight one of the benefits of working for their business is that they pay staff contributions into the Portable Long Service Benefits Scheme.
“I think the Portable Long Service Benefits Scheme is a great idea and it gives employees more financial security for the work they do,” she added.
Bendigo Professional Cleaning Services ticks the boxes when it comes to being a model corporate citizen in what can be a tough business.