Page 842 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 March 2005

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Long Service Leave Amendment Bill 2005

Ms Gallagher, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Children, Youth and Family Support, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (10.34): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The current legislation governing private sector long service leave in this territory dates back to 1976. In the nearly 30 years since the act was drafted Australia, and indeed the world, has witnessed a major shift in the way that people work. Whether because of family commitments, retrenchment or movement interstate, the notion of a full-time job for life is now unfamiliar to many people. Many people are now dependent for their income on seasonal or irregular work. It is up to those of us in this place to make sure the territory’s laws reflect the realities of today’s job market.

The government believes that long service leave is an important condition of service that is well established in Australian workplaces and recognises the value of an employee’s corporate knowledge and the cost to industry of high staff turnover. The challenge for government has been to develop amendments that balance the realities of the modern workplace against the underlying policy basis for long service leave and that take into account the interests of all stakeholders.

Turning to the provisions of the bill, I draw members’ attention to proposed new subsection 2G, located in clause 7 of the bill. This provision will ensure that seasonal workers who work for the same employer year in, year out can share in the benefits of long service leave. Whether they work in the agricultural, tourism or retail industries, there is no sound policy reason for denying these workers the benefits that apply to non-seasonal workers simply because the act has failed to keep pace with developments in working arrangements.

The other significant policy reform to be made by this bill will enable workers to take a proportion of their long service leave after completing seven years of service with an employer. This amendment will bring entitlements for private sector workers covered by the act into line with the benefits already enjoyed by the ACT public sector workers.

The amendments to section 3 of the act by clause 8 of this bill are intended to make long service leave more accessible for long-term employees. The financial impact on employers will be insignificant, as employers are already accustomed to making contingent provision for long service leave entitlements for their employees after they complete five years service, for the purposes of section 11C of the act.

The bill amends section 4 of the act to provide that the rate of accrual of long service leave is one-fifth of a month’s leave per year of service. This amendment removes the

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