30 March 2023

Changing jobs in the beauty, food or hospo industries? You can soon take your long service leave with you

| Claire Fenwicke
Start the conversation
woman pouring a coktail at a bar

Workers changing jobs in more industries will soon be covered under the Portable Long Service Leave scheme. Photo: File.

Small businesses in hairdressing, beauty services, accommodation and food services have two years to get their accounting in order. The industries are now included under the Portable Long Service Leave scheme.

The amendment bill passed the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday (29 March), which Work Health and Safety Minister Mick Gentleman said would ensure people in these workforces weren’t unfairly impacted by the “casual and insecure nature” of their work.

“I am proud of what our Portable Long Service Leave Schemes achieve in providing more workers with fair and equitable access to long service leave entitlements, recognising their service in their chosen industry,” he said.

“Workers in these industries are often highly mobile, with insecure working arrangements such as short-term contracts and casualised workforces, and we are helping protect these workers.”

As long service leave is enshrined in national legislation, Mr Gentleman said the bill was essentially a “firming up” of the obligation of small businesses to put aside money for employees who have stayed for a number of years.

The difference is that it can now be paid out to people who have been in the same industry for a time, not just the same workplace.

Therefore, he said, it shouldn’t be a shock to those businesses’ bottom lines.

“This scheme now will now have coverage of these people that are in transit-type industries,” Mr Gentleman said.

“There should not be much of an impact on the employer group because they should be putting those funds away in their accrual accounting anyway for employee entitlements.

“If you’re in a business that sees a lot of people coming through, you should still be accounting for that long service leave. It’s an entitlement across Australia.”

If businesses haven’t made these allowances, they can contact the Long Service Leave Authority.

READ ALSO Pialligo Estate crisis talks come to nought, financiers move in

Concerns have been raised that this change would encourage people to switch jobs within the same industry more frequently, as they would now be able to access their long service leave regardless if they stayed with the same employer.

But Mr Gentleman argued this would give employees more assurance their rights were being looked after in their workplace and encourage them to stay longer, as well as protect workers who could face unfair termination by employers looking to avoid having to pay out long service leave entitlements.

But the Opposition remained unimpressed.

Shadow Business Minister Leanne Castley warned the timing of the bill was “appalling” given the impacts of COVID-19 on small businesses and rising cost of living pressures, arguing this would hit businesses when they “could least afford it”.

“This will cause job losses and business closures,” she said.

“Given the transient nature of employment in many of these industries, it is doubtful that many workers will ever see any benefit.”

It has been previously argued current long service leave arrangements were enough and this amendment wasn’t warranted.

“The purported benefits to workers are questionable,” Ms Castley said.

“[The Australian Hairdressing Council says] some employers will be reluctant to hire workers with accumulated entitlements as these employees would be more likely to request protracted leave close to their commencement date.”

She argued the bill was “bad in principle and conception”.

“It will have a perverse impact on workers employed in those small businesses who have been targeted,” Ms Castley said.

READ ALSO Light Rail Stage 2A Works Approval out for comment: see what’s new

The businesses now subject to this scheme include beauty, electrolysis, makeup, nail care, skin care, tanning services, barbers, hotels and motels, holiday house operations, youth hostels, cafes, restaurants, takeaway food services, and pubs.

It’s already been foreshadowed the ACT Government will seek to further extend this policy into the real estate, travel agency and retail industries as part of a commitment to have portable long-service leave available in all workplaces.

The levy is yet to be calculated but is expected to be between 1 and 2 per cent.

Businesses will have two years to prepare for the newly expanded long service leave arrangements.

The scheme is administered by the Long Service Leave Authority, which will provide the education and awareness campaign.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.