Long service leave

In Australia and New Zealand, long service leave (LSL) is an employee entitlement to an additional vacation on full pay after an extended period of service with an employer. In Australia, employees are generally entitled to long service leave over and above their annual leave if they work for a particular employer for a certain length of time. A common entitlement in Australia is that employees who remain with the one employer for ten years are entitled to three calendar months' (ninety days) paid LSL, less on a pro rata basis, the longer they stay with that employer. When a worker ceases work with an employer, he or she is usually entitled to be paid the amount of LSL entitlement not taken on termination on a pro rata basis, though usually after a minimum period of service.

It remains one of the great entitlements for working Australians and one that is peculiar to the Australian labour market. The rules governing long service leave entitlements vary for different employees depending on their circumstances and the relevant jurisdiction.

The Institute of Actuaries of Australia estimated that the total value of long service leave benefits in Australia was around $16.5 billion in 2001.[1]

There has been a debate in Australia about the protection of employee entitlements (including long service leave) in the event of employer insolvency, with some high-profile cases involving employees losing benefits that had been accrued.

Nowadays, long service leave is ingrained in Australian culture and is specified by state-based and some federal legislation. It is often not taken when it falls due, leading to calls to reduce long-service entitlement in the public sector.[2]

Long service leave entitlements

Workers in Australia are entitled to long service leave based on legislation of the relevant state or territory, as follows:

  • Commonwealth (applies to federal public servants): 3 months on full pay after 10 years' continuous service.[3] However should you join the Commonwealth from a State government that provides LSL at a rate greater than the Commonwealth and you utilised that LSL before joining the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth will permanently withhold some of your Commonwealth LSL due to the way they interpret section 18(1) of the LSL Act. This is because an allowance for the different accrual rates is no longer made. In effect you can work for the Commonwealth for 10 years and accrue 90 days of LSL but you will only have 63 days available, the other 27 days is permanently withheld from you.
  • Australian Capital Territory: 6.066 weeks on full pay after each period of 7 years' continuous service.
  • New South Wales: 2 months' leave after 10 years' continuous service. One month's leave for each subsequent 5 years of continuous service.
  • Northern Territory: 13 weeks on full pay after each period of 10 years' continuous service.
  • Queensland: 8.6667 weeks on full pay after each period of 10 years' continuous service.
  • South Australia: 13 weeks on full pay after each period of 10 years' continuous service.
  • Tasmania: 8+2/3 weeks on full pay in respect of the first 10 years of continuous service and 4+1/3 weeks in respect of every subsequent 5 years of continuous service. (For mining workers, the entitlement is 13 weeks in respect of every 10 years of continuous service.)[4]
  • Victoria: Accrues at a rate of one week for each 60 weeks of continuous employment (approximately 0.866 weeks per year), and can be taken any time after 7 years' continuous service.[5]
  • Western Australia: 8.6667 weeks on full pay after each period of 10 years' continuous service.

Portable LSL

Within a limited number of industries, such as construction, coal mining, contract cleaning industries and the public sector, it is possible to transfer long-service leave entitlements from one employer to another, as long as the employee remains in the same state. Known as portable long service leave this is done mostly through specific legislated schemes which employers in those industries pay into, and which administer the funds for employees.[6]

The Australian Senate has recently moved to inquire into portable long service leave schemes. The inquiry will be conducted by the Education and Employment References Committee. The committee will consider how portable schemes might be structured and what role the Australian Federal Government might play in helping to establish a scheme. The committee will also have to evaluate the effect that the differing State long service entitlements will have on a national scheme, as the current state based long service leave provisions are all practically different. As of 11 November 2015, the committee had yet to meet and set dates for submissions and reporting.


Long service leave is a benefit peculiar to Australia and New Zealand (and possibly some civil servants in India), and arises from the colonial heritage of each country. There is also a similar system of sabbatical leave in Finland.[7] Long service leave developed from the concept of furlough, which stems from the Dutch word verlof (meaning leave), and its usage originates in leave granted from military service.

In Australia, the benefit was first granted to Victorian and South Australian public servants in the 1860s. The nature of the leave allowed public servants, after 10 years' service, to sail "home" to England or elsewhere, safe in the knowledge that they would be able to resume their positions upon their return to Australia.

Section 37 of the Victorian Public Service Act of 1862 reads: "Where any officer desires to visit Europe or some other distant country if he have continued in the civil service of the colony at least ten years and have not been reduced for misconduct or deprived of leave of absence under this Act the Governor in council may grant to him leave of absence upon half-salary for a period not exceeding twelve months but for such period of absence such officer shall not be entitled to receive any annual increment."[8]

Over the period from 1950 to 1975, the benefit spread beyond the public service, mainly as a result of pressure from non-government employees seeking comparability with public servants.

In the 19th century, furlough as a benefit as it is now known, was a privilege granted by legislation to the Colonial and Indian Services.

See also



  1. Protection if a Employee Entitlements
  2. Emerson, Daniel (4 October 2012). "Workers told to take holidays". The West Australian. Yahoo!7 News. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  3. Long Service Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1976 (Cth)
  4. "WorkSafe Tasmania: Long service leave". Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  5. "Long Service Leave Act 2018". Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  6. "Home – Long Service Corporation". Long Service Corporation. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  7. "European Labour Law Network". Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  8. "The Civil Service Act of Victoria". Sydney Morning Herald. 1862-07-30. p. 8. Retrieved 2019-11-28.


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