Page 3538 - Week 09 - Thursday, 21 August 2008

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One of the key workforce issues faced by the community sector is the fairly short time in which people remain engaged in the sector and, more particularly, within one organisation in that sector. Very often people develop skills, take on responsibilities and make a substantial contribution, but they become a little dispirited and exhausted or, as we say, burnt out and move on to public or private sector employment where they are generally going to enjoy better wages and/or a more secure work environment and greater promotional opportunities.

The provision of a portable long service scheme that is managed independently of the small community organisations that fund it would at least offer some benefit to those people in the sector who remain committed to the sector. These are the historical benefits of long service leave.

The scheme in this context would give people who have made a substantial contribution to the sector extended leave allowing them both rest and replenishment and a chance to reflect on their work. Such a scheme would operate to support the continued involvement of senior and experienced people in the sector, and that is something that is desperately needed. In supporting this bill I am expressing my disappointment that the more important work of setting up new schemes such as the one for the community sector has moved forward so slowly.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Minister for Industrial Relations) (9.27), in reply: I thank Mr Stefaniak and Dr Foskey for their comments in support of the legislation. The amendments in this bill will further simplify and streamline long service leave arrangements under the Long Service Leave Act 1976 and the Long Service Leave (Building and Construction Industry) Act 1981 and make them more practical for both employers and employees by allowing employees within the private sector to gain access to their long service leave on a year-to-year basis after serving an initial seven-year period with the same employer.

The government has sought to enhance long service leave arrangements for employees. With regard to the Long Service Leave (Building and Construction Industry Act) 1981, a formula that has been confusing to employers and employees has been removed and simplified and a less complex method for calculating reimbursements to employers has been introduced.

I think we can be proud that we have a model that allows access to long service leave after only seven years of service compared with the national average of 10 years. We can be proud that we will shortly have a genuinely progressive private sector model that will provide year-to-year access to long service leave after an initial seven years of service with the same employer. This additional benefit will also further enhance the attractiveness of employment within the ACT’s private sector without creating any additional financial burden to business. I thank members for their support of the legislation.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

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