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Proposed ‘portable’ long service leave for Victorian cleaners

Thousands of security guards and cleaners in Victoria could soon be able to take their long service leave from their current or previous job to the next ‘after a landmark inquiry found the proposal had merit’, reported The Sydney Morning Herald on 8 June 2016. Full length of woman cleaning hospital floor

Following a one year investigation, a parliamentary committee has called for ‘feasibility studies to consider giving portable long service leave to people who work in the same industry for 10 years, but are prevented “through no fault of their own” from accessing the entitlement because of frequent contract changes’.

“The committee heard from workers who have worked in the same job for over 10, sometimes 20, years and have never been able to take long service leave,” said committee chairman Nazih Elasmar.

“Contract cleaners and security guards have a new employer each time service contracts change hands … when this occurs, their long service leave accruals are lost and they have to start again from scratch.”

Sydney Morning Herald workplace reporter Nick Toscano pointed out that portable long service leave ‘across Victorian industries other than construction has been hotly contested’, and that  ‘unions say people are being short-changed due to the increasingly transient and casual world of work’.

But ACCI workplace relations deputy director Alana Matheson has said that supposed benefits would be outweighed by negative impacts.

“A new levy employment will increase the cost of doing business and employing in Victoria and impact the cash flow and competitiveness of Victorian businesses,” she said.

However, United Voice has welcomed the portable leave scheme proposal. The union, which represents cleaners and security guards, released a ReachTEL poll of more than 1000 Victorians this week ‘that revealed almost 70 per cent supported the idea of long service leave portability’.

“At least 13 million people live in parts of Australia where a portable long service leave scheme operates,” said union state secretary Jess Walsh. “It’s time Victoria caught up with the rest of the country.”

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