It is disappointing that the Senate has decided to waste time and energy on a national inquiry into portable long service leave – a counterproductive issue that has been pushed by the trade union movement for some time.
Labor, The Greens and some Crossbench Senators have combined to establish a Senate Committee that will inquire into the “feasibility of, and options for, creating a national long service standard, and the portability of long service and other entitlements”. The inquiry is also looking into claims of the increase in ‘insecure work’, which Ai Group rejects, and its relationship to the incidence of employees qualifying for long service leave.
With portable long service leave schemes, service in an industry or the workforce is counted rather than service with a single employer. Accordingly, these schemes conflict with the fundamental purpose of long service leave as a mechanism to reward lengthy service with an employer.
Ai Group has long opposed the extension of portable long service leave schemes beyond the construction and coal mining industries where they currently predominantly operate.
In a major submission to the current Victorian Inquiry into Portability of Long Service Leave Entitlements, we demonstrated that a portable long service leave scheme across the workforce would cost Victorian employers over $4 billion per annum – more than four times as costly as the existing Victorian long service leave provisions.
For example, traditional long service leave costs Victorian employers in the manufacturing industry around $115.8 million per year – about a quarter of the $457.6 million per annum cost of a portable long service leave scheme.
When the analysis is extended across every State and Territory, there is no doubt that a national portable long service leave scheme would cost industry well over $10 billion each year.
Submissions to the senate inquiry are due by 11 December 2015 – the terms of reference for the inquiry are available here.
Ai Group is preparing a comprehensive submission strongly opposing the extension of portable long service leave entitlements beyond the few industries where they currently operate – and we would like to hear from members about your views on portable long service leave.
Interested members can contact Genevieve Vaccaro, Ai Group’s Senior Adviser – Workplace Relations Policy, or leave a comment below.
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