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Portable long service in the community services sector

Information for businesses employing community services workers and how portable long service applies.

Young people using an ipad outdoors
Young people using an ipad outdoors

Guidance note released to assist predominance test for community services

Guidance Note 1 assists registered employers in the community services sector to better understand the predominance test. 

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For the purposes of the Portable Long Service Benefits Scheme, the community services sector is the sector in which community services work is performed.

Community services work, as defined by the Act, includes:

Roles providing support to people living with disability or who are vulnerable, disadvantaged or in crisis including:

  • training and employment support or employment placement
  • financial support or goods for assistance
  • accommodation or accommodation related support services
  • home care support services and other support services for persons with a disability or their carers

Other services prescribed as community service work, including:

  • community legal services, community education services or community advocacy services
  • community development services
  • fundraising assistance for community groups
  • social work, welfare work and youth work services
  • home care support services provided in a private residence (other than health or aged care work)
  • crisis counselling
  • emergency material relief
  • custodial or supportive care and social welfare
  • assessment of individual of family needs
  • social and community development, education and advocacy
  • family support services
  • youth services
  • housing and homelessness services
  • family violence prevention and response
  • neighbourhood houses
  • drug and alcohol services
  • migrant and refugee support services

From 1 January 2020, an activity that is funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is prescribed to be community service work and a service provided by a licensed children's service under the Children's Services Act 1996 or an approved provider under the Education and Care Services National Law (Victoria) (except an entity that is also a registered school within the meaning of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006) is prescribed to be community service work.

Who is included in the Scheme – Employers and Workers

Tests are undertaken to determine if an employer or worker is included in the Scheme.

There are two tests that apply to determine a person’s eligibility in the community services sector under the Act:

Employer Test: Is the employing entity eligible to be an employer for the community services sector, and does that employer employ at least one person who is eligible to be an employee for the community services sector?

Worker Test: Is the individual worker eligible to be an employee for the community services sector?

To be an eligible worker, the predominant activity of the eligible individual worker’s substantive role must be the personal delivery of services or the personal performance of activities that are community service work. Guidance has been released around predominance in community services work.  

Businesses who employ workers to do community services work as defined by the Act, must comply with the legislation by:

  • Registering with the Portable Long Service Authority
  • Submitting Quarterly Returns to the Portable Long Service Authority and paying the employer levy

Who is a community services employer under the Portable Long Service Scheme?

To be an employer for the community services sector under the Portable Long Service Scheme, you must be:

  • a non-profit entity that employs one or more individuals to perform community service work
  • an entity for profit that employs one or more individuals to perform community service work for persons with a disability
  • an entity prescribed under the Interim Regulations

For example:

William works for the Springfield Meals on Wheels Association. 

The Association is a registered charity on the ACNC Charity Register. 

Accordingly, the Association is a non-profit entity and would be included as an Employer under the Scheme.

Another example, Ismail works for ABC Chemist Pty Ltd providing pharmaceutical services (which are health services). ABC Chemist Pty Ltd is a privately owned company that distributes profits to its shareholders, making it a for profit entity. 

However, ABC Chemist Pty Ltd does not employ anyone to do community service work for persons with a disability and therefore is not an employer under the Act. 

It is important to note that health or aged care work are not included as community services work under the Act. 

The following are NOT community services employers under the Portable Long Service Scheme:

  • The Commonwealth of Australia, for example the Department of Education
  • The State of Victoria, for example the Department of Education and Training
  • Entity that has a governing body appointed under an Act, for example the Portable Long Service Benefits Authority
  • Municipal council or other public statutory body, for example the City of Melbourne or Mornington Peninsula Shire
  • Public health service or public hospital – these are specified in the Act and Interim  Regulations

For example:

Lucy works for the City of Boroondara and provides recreation and leisure community services.  The City of Boroondara is a municipal council.  Therefore, Lucy is not eligible to join the Scheme as she is not employed by a specified community services employer.

Another example, Sam works for the Department of Health and Human Services as a policy officer on disability support services policy and legislation.  Sam would not be eligible to join the Scheme as the Department of Health is not an employer under the Act.

Who is a community services worker under the Portable Long Service Scheme?

A worker in community services under the Portable Long Service Scheme, is a person employed by a defined community services employer and who must personally deliver services or personally perform activities that are community service work.

These activities must be the predominant activity of their substantive role.

From 1 January 2020, as described in the Interim Regulations an activity that is funded by the NDIS will be included as community services work along with services provided by an entity that is a licensed children’s service under the Children’s Services Act, such as early childhood centres, providers of occasional care will be included as community services work.

What if my organisation provides more than one service?

Some community organisations provide more than one service such as health or aged care? It is possible that some of the services come within the scope of the legislation, whilst others may not. In this case, a predominance test will apply.

Ordinary pay

Ordinary pay is the gross wages or salary, prior to deductions such as PAYG tax, salary sacrifice and salary packaging items, paid or payable to the worker for work under an award or agreement (including a common law contract).

If a worker ordinarily works weekends, or shift work, and gets penalty rates then those penalty rates will form part of the worker’s ordinary pay.

Community Services

Examples of What Ordinary Pay Includes:

  • Any above/over award payments
  • Sick leave
  • Annual leave
  • Workers compensation – when payment is made by the employer in the first instance and then reimbursed by the insurance company
  • Public holiday penalty rates
  • Weekend or shift work penalty rates where the worker ordinarily works weekend or shift work
  • Maternity/paternity leave paid by the employer
  • Bereavement leave
  • Carer’s leave
  • Other paid leave
  • Casual loading
  • Jury duty
  • Long service leave

Examples of What Ordinary Pay Does Not Include:

  • Leave without pay
  • Overtime penalty rates
  • Leave loading
  • Expense reimbursements
  • Amounts paid to worker for use of the following -
    • Materials
    • Equipment
    • Motor vehicle
  • Allowances, including -
    • Shift
    • Travel
    • Meals
    • Protective clothing
    • Sleepover
  • Termination payments, including -
    • In lieu of notice
    • Lump sum payment in lieu of accrued leave
    • Redundancy
  • Superannuation
  • Cashed out leave
  • Christmas bonuses
  • One off bonuses (e.g. performance pay)
  • Maternity/paternity leave paid by the government
  • Worker’s compensation where payments are made directly by the insurance company

Reviewed 21 November 2019