THE Long Service Leave Bill 2017 (Vic) passed the Upper House of Parliament last week, coming into operation on 1 November 2018 unless proclaimed earlier.

It replaces the Long Service Leave Act 1992 (Vic) and contains changes to increase flexibility for employees to take long service leave and increase protections to ensure continuity of service is not disrupted. A number of the key changes are detailed below.

Allowing employees to take leave one day at a time

The 1992 Act provided that long service must be taken in one period, unless it was agreed between the employer and employer that the employee may take the first 13 weeks of leave in two or three separate periods, and any subsequent leave in two separate periods.

Under the new scheme, an employee may request to take leave for one day periods. An employer must grant the request unless it has reasonable business grounds for refusal.

Allowing employees to take leave after seven years

The 1992 Act provided that a pro rata long service leave entitlement is available after seven years’ service – but only on termination of employment. Otherwise, the employee could only take long service leave after ten years’ continuous service.

Under the new scheme, employees can apply to take their long service on a pro-rata basis after seven years’ service.

Treatment of parental leave

Under the 1992 Act, if an employee took more than 12 months parental leave it would break their continuity of service and they would lose any accrued long service leave entitlements.

Under the new scheme, continuity of service will not be broken by any period of parental leave. Any period of paid parental leave and up to 12 months of unpaid parental leave will count as service.

There are transitional arrangements in place so that the new parental leave arrangements only apply to leave taken after the commencement of the Act.

Implications for employers

With stronger penalties in place under the new scheme, employers must ensure they are familiar with all aspects of the new long service leave legislation.

This includes ensuring that any relevant policies are updated so that long service leave entitlements are correctly calculated and requests for long service leave are appropriately responded to.

For more information and advice on the changes to Victoria’s long service leave requirements, please contact your local AMMA office.