Long service leave

In Australia and New Zealand, long service leave (LSL) is an employee entitlement to an additional vacation on full pay after an extended period of service with an employer. In Australia, employees are generally entitled to long service leave over and above their annual leave if they work for a particular employer for a certain length of time. A common entitlement in Australia is that employees who remain with the one employer for ten years are entitled to two calendar months (eight and two-thirds weeks) paid LSL, less on a pro rata basis, the longer they stay with that employer. When a worker ceases work with an employer, he or she is usually entitled to be paid the amount of LSL entitlement not taken on termination on a pro rata basis, though usually after a minimum period of service.

It remains one of the great entitlements for working Australians and one that is peculiar to the Australian labour market. The rules governing long service leave entitlements vary for different employees depending on their circumstances and the relevant jurisdiction. Currently, annual leave entitlements are covered by the state or territory law in which the employee is employed.

The Institute of Actuaries of Australia estimated that the total value of long service leave benefits in Australia was around $16.5bn in 2001.[1]

There has been a debate in Australia about the protection of employee entitlements (including long service leave) in the event of employer insolvency, with some high-profile cases involving employees losing benefits that had been accrued.

Nowadays, long service leave is ingrained in Australian culture and is specified by state based and some federal legislation. It is often not taken when it falls due, leading to calls to reduce long-service entitlement in the public sector.[2]

Long service leave entitlements

Workers in Australia are entitled to long service leave based on legislation of the relevant state or territory, as follows:

Portable LSL

Within a limited number of industries, such as construction, coal-mining, contract-cleaning industries and the public sector, it is possible to transfer long-service leave entitlements from one employer to another, as long as the employee remains in the same state. Known as portable long service leave this is done mostly through specific legislated schemes which employers in those industries pay into, and which administer the funds for employees.[4]

The Australian Senate has recently moved to inquire into portable long service leave schemes. The inquiry will be conducted by the Education and Employment References Committee. The committee will consider how portable schemes might be structured and what role the Australian Federal Government might play in helping to establish a scheme. The committee will also have to evaluate the effect that the differing State long service entitlements will have on a national scheme, as the current state based long service leave provisions are all practically different. As of 11 November 2015, the committee had yet to meet and set dates for submissions and reporting etc., as nearly half of the members have been away on long service leave.


Long service leave is a benefit peculiar to Australia and New Zealand (and possibly some public servants in India) and relates to their colonial heritage. There is a similar system of sabbatical leaves also in Finland.[5] Long service leave developed from the concept of furlough, which stems from the Dutch word verlof (meaning leave) and its usage originates in leave granted from military service.

Long service leave was introduced in Australia in the 1860s. The idea was to allow civil servants the opportunity to sail home to England after 10 years’ service in ‘the colonies’. It was 13 weeks for every ten years of service, composed of five weeks to sail back to England, three weeks of leave and five weeks to sail back.

In the 19th century, furlough as a benefit as it is now known, was a privilege granted by legislation to the colonial and Indian Services. In Australia, the benefits were first granted to Victorian and South Australian civil servants. The nature of the leave allowed civil servants to sail 'home' to England, safe in the knowledge that they were able to return to their positions upon their return to Australia.

The concept spread beyond the public service over the period 1950 to 1975, mainly as a result of pressure from employees seeking comparability with the public service.

See also


  1. Protection if a Employee Entitlements
  2. Emerson, Daniel (4 October 2012). "Workers told to take holidays". The West Australian. Yahoo!7 News. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  4. "Home – Long Service Corporation". Long Service Corporation. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  5. "European Labour Law Network". Retrieved 15 September 2014.

External links

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