COVID-19 | NSW Par­lia­ment Updates Leg­is­la­tion Relat­ing to Long Ser­vice Leave Entitlements

In the wake of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, NSW par­lia­ment has passed a num­ber of bills seek­ing to alle­vi­ate some of the hard­ships caused by the crisis. 

One sig­nif­i­cant impli­ca­tion of COVID-19 in the employ­ment sphere con­cerns employ­ee access to paid leave enti­tle­ments, such as annu­al leave and long ser­vice leave. This becomes par­tic­u­lar­ly rel­e­vant as an increas­ing num­ber of busi­ness­es are clos­ing their doors, and employ­ers are seri­ous­ly con­sid­er­ing steps such as stand­ing down employ­ees. One alter­na­tive to stand­ing down employ­ees is for employ­ees to take accrued leave. 

On 24 March 2020, the Trea­sury Leg­is­la­tion Amend­ment (COVID-19) Bill 2020 was passed which removes some of the imped­i­ments in access­ing long ser­vice leave in NSW

Pre­vi­ous­ly, the Long Ser­vice Leave Act 1955 (NSW) pro­vid­ed that an employ­er and employ­ee may agree for the employ­ee to take a peri­od of long ser­vice leave but that peri­od must have been at least one month. 

From 25 March 2020, there will no longer be a require­ment for employ­ees to take a min­i­mum peri­od of one mon­th’s long ser­vice leave. As such, employ­ees will be able to nego­ti­ate with their employ­er to access long ser­vice leave enti­tle­ments in short­er blocks, and in dif­fer­ent pat­terns, such as one day per week. 

Fur­ther, an employ­er and employ­ee can agree for the employ­ee to take long ser­vice leave with less than one mon­th’s notice, as was pre­vi­ous­ly required. 

These changes will pro­vide employ­ers and employ­ees with increased flex­i­bil­i­ty to access leave enti­tle­ments dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic and may help busi­ness­es retain employ­ees on their books. Indeed, accord­ing to NSW Trea­sur­er Dominic Per­rot­tet, it is expect­ed that these changes will pro­vide anoth­er way for busi­ness­es to help main­tain their work­force dur­ing what will be an extend­ed peri­od of disruption.” 

This leg­is­la­tion will have effect for 6 months from 25 March 2020, with the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a one year extension. 

If you would like more infor­ma­tion on the update con­tact Michael Byrnes today on +61 2 9233 5544.