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Long service leave

Most South Australian workers receive 13 weeks long service leave after 10 years' service with an employer, or related employers, with pro rata entitlement after 7 years.

Private sector workers are covered by the national workplace relations system, most receiving their long service leave entitlements from the South Australian Long Service Leave Act 1987 (the Act). Local government workers are also covered by this Act.

Other arrangements apply to workers:

Leave accrual

A worker who has completed 10 years of service is entitled to 13 weeks long service leave. A further 1.3 weeks leave is granted for each completed year of service thereafter.

Part-time and casual workers accrue their entitlements just like full-time workers. However, the payment for a period of leave is based on the ordinary hours worked per week or the average weekly hours over the previous 3 years of service.

Long service leave does not accrue during unpaid parental leave or other unpaid leave granted to a worker.

The rate of long service leave accrual differed prior to 1972. If your employment pre-dates 1972 please call our Help Centre on 1300 365 255.

Leave calculator

If you think the Act applies to you, our long service leave calculator can help you work out your entitlement if your employment was from 1 January 1972 onwards.

To use this calculator you will need to know:

  • an employment start date
  • a projected leave or termination date
  • periods of leave without pay, if any
  • periods of long service leave already taken.

Please note that this calculator is a model, not a prediction. The results will be based on the information you provide, assuming that it is correct, and are therefore only estimates. The calculator does not have a save function.

Taking leave

Workers can negotiate with their employer about how they take their long service leave. This could include the deferral of leave or taking leave in separate periods.

In the absence of an agreement, employers should grant long service leave:

  • as soon as practicable after the worker becomes entitled to the leave, taking into consideration the needs of the business
  • in one continuous period
  • with at least 60 days’ notice to the worker of the date from which leave is to be taken.

Pro rata leave

If you leave your employment or your employment is terminated after 7 years of service, but less than 10 years, you are entitled to the monetary equivalent of 1.3 weeks leave for each completed year of service. This is often referred to as pro rata long service leave.

You are not entitled to a pro rata payment if your employment is terminated on the grounds of serious and wilful misconduct, or if you unlawfully terminated your employment, such as failure to give the required amount of notice upon termination.

Payments

Generally, long service leave is paid at the ordinary weekly wage a worker is entitled to immediately before going on leave, or at the time of employment termination. It will include above-award payments for work in ordinary time, but not overtime, shift premiums or penalty rates.

If your weekly hours changed during all or some of the 3 years immediately preceding a payment for long service leave, then your ordinary weekly wage is calculated by averaging the number of hours worked per week during those 3 years, and multiplying by your hourly rate at the time of taking leave or employment termination.

If you are entitled to long service leave and your employment is terminated or you leave your employment, you are entitled to a payment in lieu of taking that leave.

If you are paid by commission, piece rates or another system of payment-by-result, then your ordinary weekly wage is calculated by averaging your weekly earnings over the 12 months immediately before taking leave or the time of employment termination.

Payment for long service leave must be made:

  • in advance for the whole period of leave, or
  • like wages would have been paid if the worker was at work, or
  • in some other way agreed to by the employer and the worker, or
  • immediately, if it’s a payment in lieu at the time of employment termination.

You can agree with your employer to ‘cash out’ either the whole or part of an accrued long service leave entitlement. Any such agreement must be recorded in writing and signed by both parties.

Continuous service

An entitlement to long service leave only arises when your service is continuous.

Any period of annual leave, long service leave, paid or unpaid sick leave and workers compensation will count as service and not break continuity of service. This is also the case for any absence in accordance with a contract of service, such as a pre-determined business shut down, or if you are an apprentice re-employed by the same employer within 12 months of completing an apprenticeship.

Your continuity of service is also not affected by unpaid parental leave or any other unpaid absence, however these breaks from work are not to be taken into account in calculating your period of service with the employer.

Leave records

Employers must keep records relating to long service leave throughout a worker’s service, and for at least 3 years after termination of employment. Workers are also entitled to inspect these records.

You can use our Microsoft Office document icon records template for this purpose. This PDF icon completed sample shows how to fill in the template.

However employers don’t need to use this template if they already, promptly and accurately, keep wages, leave or other similar records, either in hard copy or electronic form.

Transfer of business

If a business has been sold and a worker continues to be employed by the new employer, then in most circumstances the worker’s service will not be broken and is deemed continuous.

It’s the new employer’s responsibility to negotiate with the outgoing employer regarding any long service leave liability of a worker.

Resolving disputes

You should initially attempt to resolve any long service leave dispute directly with your employer. If this fails, you can PDF icon lodge a claim with us and one of our inspectors will investigate and help resolve the matter. If necessary we will take appropriate action as provided by the Act.

If your claim is found to be invalid or there isn’t enough evidence for us to pursue the matter further, you will be notified accordingly. This does not prevent you from taking action in the South Australian Employment Tribunal.

National workplace relations system

The National Employment Standards are 10 minimum employment entitlements, which include long service leave that must be provided to all workers with workplace arrangements in place before 1 January 2010.

The Act does not apply if long service leave entitlements in a federal award or agreement would have covered an employer and their workers before that date.

More information is available from the Fair Work Ombudsman or phone 13 13 94.

Construction industry

If you work in the construction industry, under the Construction Industry Long Service Leave Act 1987 you can qualify for long service leave based on your service to the industry, rather than to just one employer.

Employers must register with Portable Long Service Leave and pay a levy every 2 months to the Construction Industry Fund. The current levy rate of 2.15% is fixed by the Construction Industry Long Service Leave Board.

When your long service leave entitlement is due, you get paid from this fund.

For enquiries phone Construction Benefit Services on 8332 6111 or Toll Free (SA country only) 1800 182 124.

South Australian public service

Your long service leave entitlements are defined through legislation and a Determination of the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment if:

  • you are employed in the South Australian Public Service in an administrative unit or attached office, as defined by the Public Sector Act 2009
  • your employment has been declared by another Act or the Regulations.

If in doubt, talk to someone from human resources within your agency.

Further information

If you're still unsure about your entitlements or to discuss your situation in more detail, call our Help Centre on 1300 365 255.