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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4221 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

paid leave after 10 years. Also, service within the Australian public service will normally be recognised by other public services. So, long service leave in the public service is, generally speaking, portable.

The ACT has established a special portable long service leave scheme for workers in the construction industry. This scheme is similar to arrangements in all other jurisdictions and recognises the fact that people are employed in this industry to work on particular construction projects and there is very limited scope for workers to stay with one employer for any length of time. The construction industry scheme also provides for additional benefits. Construction industry workers are entitled to 13 weeks leave after 10 years service, which is slightly more generous than the public service scheme.

The ACT, again as the result of a Labor initiative put forward by my colleague Mr Berry, has also set up a portable long service leave scheme for contract workers in the cleaning industry. Because these workers are employed on contract, again they have limited ability to stay working for the same employer for any length of time. The benefits provided under the contract cleaning scheme are the same as those applying to other private sector workers in the ACT.

Mr Speaker, the Stanhope government is committed to ensuring that all workers have working arrangements that effectively allow them to balance work and other life commitments. Indeed, this is a central tenet of Labor philosophy. The government is committed to establishing the problems with workers accessing long service leave in the ACT and to developing options to address these problems, including amendments to the Long Service Leave Act or through new legislation.

Ms MacDonald has raised the specific issue of consistency with New South Wales laws. ACT laws are similar to New South Wales laws, except in one respect-where workers are made redundant, they may be paid out their long service leave on a pro rata basis, even though no entitlement to take long service leave exists.

Currently, ACT workers who are made redundant can be paid a pro rata sum for long service leave only after they have been working for their employer for seven years. In New South Wales, redundant employees can be paid a pro rata long service leave benefit after just five years, which is the most generous provision made in any Australian jurisdiction for the private sector. The government is committed to consulting with employers and unions about amending ACT laws to allow for the more generous redundancy benefits available under New South Wales laws.

Ms MacDonald has also raised the issue of the impact of long service leave arrangements on women. At the moment, if a woman takes leave from work to have a baby or to care for a child, when she returns to work she has to start accruing long service leave all over again. Again, the Stanhope government will consult with employers and unions about amending ACT laws so that breaking periods of service with an employer by taking leave to care for children does not interrupt long service leave accrual.

That, clearly, would have significant benefits for working parents and would make ACT workplaces more family friendly. The government will also work to establish and to extend portable long service leave arrangements into other industries where the nature of the employment affects the ability of workers to access long service leave. This is

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