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The case for a national portable long service leave scheme in Australia

Australia New Zealand

This report provides the most comprehensive framework for the establishment of a National Portable Long Service Leave Scheme ever produced in Australia.

Long servIce leave is unique to AustralIa and New Zealand. The origins of Long Service Leave can be traced back to the 19th century as an entitlement given to civil servants which enabled those who had served for a long period of time to travel ‘home’ to Britain, confident that they could return to Australia and return to their previous job.

The entitlement was transformed from leave provided to visit Britain, to leave provided after a long period of employment for workers to have a break and return to work fresh and renewed.

While the length of leave and qualification periods vary from State to State, the general entitlement a worker receives today is two months leave after ten continuous years of service with the same employer.

However, due to the changing nature of employment, Australian workers are more frequently changing jobs and careers. This has meant Long Service Leave in its current form has become inaccessible to the overwhelming majority of Australian workers. Only one in four Australian workers stay with the same employer for 10 years.

In this context, the McKell Institute believes the time has come to again restructure Long Service Leave and create a 21st century entitlement by making Long Service Leave fully portable. If Long Service Leave were to follow a worker as they change jobs and careers (as our superannuation does), the majority of Australian workers would again be able to take a well earned break after a long period of time in the workforce.

This McKell Institute report was written by Professor Raymond Markey and his colleagues at the Macquarie University Centre for Workforce Futures.

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