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Long Service Leave - What Is It?

Long Service Leave is almost unique to Australia. It had its origins many years ago. In the last century, employees of the Crown, became entitled to three months paid leave after a number of years of service to take account of the sailing time for a return trip to England. In the words of Victoria's Public Service Act of the 1860's:

"Where any officer desires to visit Europe or some other distant country, if he have continued in the civil services of this colony at least ten years, ....The Governor in Council may grant him leave of absence..."

In 1955 the New South Wales government passed the Long Service Leave Act which ultimately gave three months leave to private sector employees after 15 years of service with the same employer. All remaining states followed with similar legislation being enacted.

Typically private sector employees become entitled to three months leave for each ten or fifteen years of service (depending on the jurisdiction) with pro-rata entitlements, under certain circumstances after a lesser period (typically seven years).

Legislation was passed in Tasmania in 1971 which provided long service leave benefits for persons employed in the construction industry who were unable to achieve an entitlement under previously existing long service leave provisions. The legislation recognised that there are certain employment fields where, although persons may remain in the same industry for long periods, they are unable to secure long term continuous employment with a single employer. The Construction Industry (Long Service) Act 1971 commenced on 22 March, 1972.

The basic principal underlying the legislation is that persons employed in the construction industry are able to count broken service with different employers in establishing an entitlement to long service leave.

The Act provides for an entitlement to long service leave to accrue on the completion of fifteen years of reckonable service. Pro-rata long service leave entitlements are provided in certain specified circumstances on the termination of employment after at least seven years of reckonable service.

The enactment of the Construction Industry (Long Service) Act 1997 resulted in the responsibility for the administration of the Scheme being given to a Trustee company established for that purpose.

Effective from 1 July 1998 TasBuild Limited is the Trustee for the Construction Industry Long Service Fund with the requirement to provide entitlements to employees in the construction industry.

The Construction Industry (Long Service) Act 1997 is available for purchase from the Government Printing Authority, Salamanca Place, Hobart or is available for viewing purposes on the Internet at www.thelaw.tas.gov.au.