Victoria’s long service leave regime is set to become more flexible for employees, with the second reading of the Long Service Leave Bill 2017 (Vic) moved today in the Victorian Legislative Assembly.

The Bill proposes a number of important changes from the current 1992 Act, each of which would make it easier for employees to access, accumulate, or take long service leave than is currently the case.

1. Entitlement to take leave: An employee can take long service leave after 7 years’ continuous employment.

What happens currently? An employee can only have long service leave paid out after 7 years, and take long service leave after 10 years.

2. Unpaid parental leave: Unpaid parental leave up to 52 weeks will be included when calculating the period of an employee’s continuous service.

What happens currently? No amount of unpaid parental leave is included when calculating an employee’s continuous service.

3. Requesting to take long service leave: An employee may make a request to his or her employer to take long service leave for a period of not less than 1 day. An employer must grant the request unless it has reasonable business grounds for refusing it.

What happens currently? Long service leave must be taken in one period, except where an employer and employee agree to separate periods. If an agreement is reached, then the first 13 weeks of long service leave may be taken in up to three separate periods, and subsequent long service leave may be taken in two separate periods.

4. Changes to working hours: If an employee’s weekly number of hours of work changes during the 2 years immediately before he or she starts long service leave, the employee’s ‘normal weekly number of hours of work’ is taken to be the greatest of the hours worked by an employee over the last 12 months, 5 years, or ‘last period of continuous employment’ respectively (taking into account paid and unpaid leave).

What happens currently? If an employee’s weekly number of hours of work changes during the 12 months immediately before he or she takes long service leave, the employee’s ‘normal weekly number of hours of work’ is taken to be greater of the average weekly hours worked over the last 12 months or 5 years respectively.

We will continue to monitor the progress of the Bill and keep you informed of further developments. The full text of the Bill and Explanatory Memorandum can be found here: Long Service Leave Bill 2017 (Vic).