NSW Government passes historic long service reform for 250,000 community service workers

NSW Gov

The Minns Labor Government has today delivered an historic reform that will benefit up to 250,000 community service workers, more than 75% of whom are women, ensuring they get access to portable long service leave.

The NSW Government’s reform has passed Parliament and will improve the lives of hard-working, dedicated staff in domestic and family violence support, homelessness services, community housing and other community services.

It is estimated that one in every 12 women working in NSW are employed in sectors that will be covered by the scheme.

Under the current system, community sector workers can only gain long service leave after 10 years working for a specific employer.

In a sector where short-term contracts are common, workers rarely spend enough time in the same workplace to access their long service leave. These workers currently lose all accrued long service leave when they change employers.

These workers will now get long service leave based on their time in their sector rather than time employed by a single employer.

This reform will ensure these workers receive 6 weeks paid leave after 7 years of employment in the sector no matter how many times they change contracts.

Importantly this reform allows casual or part-time employees to access this entitlement after the equivalent time (calculated on a pro-rata basis).

Stakeholder feedback provided to the government stated this reform will be an incentive to workers to stay in the industry and help minimise burnout and fatigue.

It is also a critical measure to improve recruitment and reduce the high level of staff turnover among community service workers and forms part of the NSW Labor Government’s commitment to key workers in NSW.

The portable long service scheme was the subject of extensive consultation with employers, peak organisations, and workers. The Government acknowledges the significant work of the Australian Services Union, NCOSS and other non-government sector organisations in designing this scheme.

It will operate in a similar way as already exists for contract cleaners and the construction sector, with employer contributions administered by the Long Service Corporation.

Rather than budget for long service leave as they currently do, employers will pay a levy to the Long Service Leave Corporation to cover their obligations under the Long Service Leave Act 1955.This bill will also offer a one-off one-year service credit for workers who register within the first six months of commencement, as was provided to cleaners when their scheme was introduced in 2010.

Minister for Industrial Relations Sophie Cotsis said:

“The NSW Government is proud to deliver a landmark reform for community service workers who have been campaigning for years to access portable long service entitlements.

“Across the state – in rural, remote, regional and metro neighbourhoods, there are professionals who provide vital services to their communities.

“I have met many of these workers who push themselves in jobs that can be emotionally exhausting and that takes a toll.

“These are tough jobs in domestic and family violence support, homelessness services, community housing and other community services and they deserve to have access to long service leave regardless of if they work for multiple providers.

“We are making sure these incredible professionals, most of whom are women, now get long service.

“I want to thank the hard-working community service workers of NSW for everything they do to make the lives of people in this state that much better.

“A huge thanks to the ASU, NCOSS as well as my officials for their diligent hard work over many months to ensure this groundbreaking reform.”

/Public Release. View in full here.