Long service leave – Continuous employment pre June 2022

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To be entitled to long service leave under the Long Service Leave Act, an employee’s employment with their employer must be ‘continuous’. The amount of their long service leave is then determined by their period of continuous employment.

There are some paid and unpaid absences that do not break an employee’s continuous employment and count towards long service leave accrual. Some other types of absences do not break an employee’s continuous employment, but do not count towards long service leave accrual. 

This page covers how continuous employment was calculated for long service leave entitlements that fully accrued (became due) prior to 20 June 2022.

If an employee has a long service leave entitlement that fully accrued prior to 20 June 2022 the previous provisions in the Long Service Leave Act about absences that count towards the period of continuous employment still apply to that entitlement if the employee takes the long service leave (or receives payment for long service leave on termination) after 20 June 2022.

For example, if an employee accrued an entitlement to long service leave in December 2021 but is yet to take that leave, there is no need for the employer to re-calculate the employee’s long service leave accrual based on the new provisions that are now in place. 

Absences that counted as part of an employee’s period of continuous employment – pre 20 June 2022

For periods of long service leave that were fully accrued prior to 20 June 2022, the following absences counted as part of an employee’s period of continuous employment:

  • periods of annual leave, of any duration
  • periods of long service leave, of any duration
  • periods of leave due to sickness or injury to the employee for a maximum of 15 working days per year of employment
  • public holidays
  • any period following the termination of the employee by their employer irrespective of the duration, if this was done by the employer with the intent of avoiding their long service leave obligations
  • service with the Defence Forces, other than service as a permanent member of the Defence Forces, e.g. service with the Defence Force Reserves.

An employee’s period of employment with a previous owner of a business also counted as part of their period of employment with the new owner where there was a transmission of the business.

Absences that did not count as part of an employee’s period of continuous employment

For periods of long service leave that were fully accrued prior to 20 June 2022, the following absences did not count as part of an employee’s period of continuous employment:

  • periods of leave due to sickness or injury to the employee in excess of 15 working days per year of employment
  • absences that are authorised by the employer (other than annual leave and long service leave) - for example, a period of parental leave or leave without pay
  • any period between employment, where an employer terminates an employee for a reason other than slackness of trade but then re-employs them within 2 months of the termination
  • any period between employment, where an employer terminates an employee due to slackness of trade but then re-employs them within 6 months of the date of termination
  • any period when the employee was stood down by their employer in accordance with an award, agreement, order or determination. Please note the situation may be different if a stand down was based on a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction. For information about the effect of JobKeeper enabling stand down directions on long service leave entitlements, see the JobKeeper enabling stand down directions and long service leave entitlements page
  • any absence arising directly or indirectly from an industrial dispute, if the employee returned to work in accordance with the terms of settlement of the dispute
  • any reasonable absence on legitimate union business for which the employee has requested, but been refused, leave.

Although these absences did not count as part of an employee’s period of employment for long service leave, they did not break an employee’s continuity of employment.

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