NSW par­lia­ment pro­pos­es mak­ing COVID-19 long ser­vice leave flex­i­bil­i­ty permanent

On 15 Feb­ru­ary 2022 the NSW Gov­ern­ment intro­duced a Bill mak­ing per­ma­nent changes to the Long Ser­vice Leave Act 1955 (NSW) (LSL Act) to pro­vide employ­ers and work­ers with greater flex­i­bil­i­ty in access­ing long ser­vice leave. 

The COVID-19 and Oth­er Leg­is­la­tion Amend­ment (Reg­u­la­to­ry Reforms) Bill 2022 includes, amongst oth­er things, the abil­i­ty for:

  • a work­er with an enti­tle­ment to long ser­vice leave to take that leave in two or more sep­a­rate peri­ods of not less than one day;
  • an employ­er, with the agree­ment of a work­er, to give less than one month’s notice of when it is pro­posed long ser­vice leave be giv­en and taken;
  • an employ­er and a work­er to agree to a work­er tak­ing a peri­od of long ser­vice leave, of not less than one day, in advance of the work­er becom­ing enti­tled to it (pre­vi­ous­ly any long ser­vice leave in advance was required to be tak­en for a peri­od of not less than one month). The LSL Act con­tains a pro­vi­sion that upon ter­mi­na­tion of employ­ment of a work­er who has tak­en leave in advance, an employ­er may deduct the val­ue of that leave if the ter­mi­na­tion of employ­ment occurs before the work­er became enti­tled to it.

The amend­ments pro­posed by the Bill had been intro­duced on a tem­po­rary basis in response to the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic and were due to end on 31 March 2022. How­ev­er, the Gov­ern­ment has iden­ti­fied eco­nom­ic ben­e­fits in mak­ing these amend­ments per­ma­nent. Those include, accord­ing to the Sec­ond Read­ing Speech, ben­e­fits to employ­ers in the form of increased pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and low­er absen­teeism rates asso­ci­at­ed with work­ers being able to work more flex­i­bly, and ben­e­fits to work­ers in being able to take long ser­vice leave in a form that best suits their needs.

We will keep an eye on the Bill’s progress and update you with any developments.

Update: the COVID-19 and Oth­er Leg­is­la­tion Amend­ment (Reg­u­la­to­ry Reforms) Bill 2022 received assent on 24 March 2022