Easy guide to long service leave in QLD

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Employers deeply value loyalty and hard work, so long service leave is a great way to thank your longest, most committed employees for all of their efforts. When an employee has been with the same business or employer for more than 10 consecutive years, they are entitled to receiving a paid leave of absence for roughly 8.6667 weeks. Australians pursue dynamic career paths, with only one in four Australians staying with the same employer for 10 years or more, causing some to question the suitability of this entitlement. This Business Kitz blog post will take you through everything you need to know about long service leave in Queensland and other various entitlements that come along with this.  

What exactly is long service leave? 

As defined by the Queensland Government, long service leave is a period of paid leave granted to employees in recognition of a long period of service with an employer. Both employers and employees, with the exception of the state and local government, are covered by the national workplace relations system. However, where there is no entitlement that exists under the Federal system, an employee will have an entitlement in accordance with the Industrial Relations Act 2016 (Qld). This act provides leave entitlements for most employees in Queensland, including casuals, part time and seasonal employees, subject to certain conditions. 

When an employee has worked for 10 years of continuous service, they are entitled to take 8.6667 weeks of paid long service leave. Once are employer has completed a further 5 years of continuous service, they are rewarded with an additional 4.3333 weeks of leave. For any continuous service afterwards, access to further leave accrued is not subject to a qualifying period. 

Most employees’ entitlements to long service leave arise from the specific state or territory law, of which establish how long an employee has to be working to get this leave, and how much time off they are entitled to. 

What are the long service leave entitlements in Queensland?

Covered by the Industrial Relations Act 2016, any form of public holidays that occur during the long service leave period will then extend the period of leave, on top of the 8.67 weeks of unpaid leave after 10 years, or 4.33 weeks of paid leave after a continuous 5 years of employment. If an employee has also been terminated after ten years of continuous service, they are then automatically entitled to be paid their leave, of which is calculated based on a pro-rata basis (in proportion). Furthermore, if employees wish to do so, they can also cash out this leave under an industrial instrument, or upon application to the QLD IRC. 

Employees who are also terminated after seven years of continuous service may still be entitled to a proportionate payment of their long service leave. However, this only applies if the termination has arisen as a result of either death, illness or incapacity, a domestic or other pressing necessity, the employer dismisses the employee (with the exception of termination due to conduct, capacity or performance), as well as unfair dismissal. 

Employees under full time, part time and casual contracts all have the entitlements to long service leave, however these entitlements do not apply to employees in the building, construction and cleaning industries, as they are covered by QLeave

How are these leave payments calculated?

Long service leave entitles employees to payment during their term of leave, but the amount is contingent upon the scheme relevant to them. Usually, the employee is paid at their ordinary pay rate during their leave period. It is important to note that the ‘ordinary pay rate’ is the employee’s base rate of pay for the hours that they usually work and often does not include certain allowances, shift loadings, penalties or overtime (unless stated in their relevant scheme). If there is also no ‘ordinary’ rate of pay, often the pay entitlement during the long service leave is calculated, such as calculating the amount of the ordinary remuneration at the time the employee takes the leave, in comparison to the average weekly remuneration the employee earned in any number of preceding years. 

In the case that the employee does not have any form of fixed weekly hours, such as employment on a casual basis or working off commission, the leave payment would then be determined by whichever method is prescribed in their relevant long service leave scheme, often resulting in a much greater pay rate. For instance, this may be calculated on the premise of the average weekly earnings over the previous twelve months, or their average weekly earnings over the previous specified number of years. 

What is portable long service leave?

Some Australian states and territories have legislation that provide employees in the security, community services, building and construction, coal mining, and contract cleaning industries with access to portable long service leave. This means that employees are able to keep their long service leave entitlements even if they work on different projects for one or more employers. 

Legal advice

Long service leave entitlements are highly dependent on how long an employee has been employed by the same employer. Each state and territory have different rules and regulations surrounding the concept of long service leave. Furthermore, depending on your form of employment, how your rate is calculated will differ. If you have any concerns about accessing your leave, or think you have been paid incorrectly, our sister company, Legal Kitz, is here to help! You can book a free 30-minute consultation with our experienced and highly qualified team via our website now.