Submitted by the NSW Department of Services, Technology & Administration
Some 30,000 cleaners in NSW are engaged in connection with commercial cleaning contracts, working for consecutive, unrelated employers and are unable to accrue the requisite 10 years’ continuous service with a single employer to be eligible for long service leave benefits under the Long Service Leave Act 1955.
It is not unusual for a worker in this industry to clock up a few years’ service with an employer only to have their accrued long service leave reset to zero following the expiration of a contract, even if they are re-hired by the new contract holder. In this circumstance, they effectively forfeit the time they have already served despite working in the same building, school or shopping centre, doing the same work for ten years… and often longer. With the high frequency of the changeover of cleaning contracts, this cycle repeats itself over and over again.
A statutory portability scheme for the industry has been established to remedy this situation. As the name suggests, the scheme will recognise service accrued while working for various employers within the contract cleaning industry rather than a single employer.
The views and involvement of peak industry organisations including the Building Service and Contractors’ Association of Australia (BSCAA), the Australian Cleaning Contractors’ Association (ACCA) and United Voice (formerly the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union or LHMU) was crucial throughout the consultation and development phases of the scheme. An important factor in their unanimous support for the scheme is the strong belief that a comprehensive workplace education and compliance regime will act as a practical deterrent for non-compliant operators and help maintain a level playing field for employers competitively tendering for cleaning services contracts.
The scheme model draws on the content of two similar schemes which have been operative in Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory for a number of years, with some minor modifications to suit New South Wales circumstances and other practical considerations. Both jurisdictions have provided valuable advice and assistance.
The scheme begins on 1 July 2011. It will be administered by the Long Service Corporation with the advice and guidance of a tripartite Industry Committee. It will be funded by a levy on industry employers which will be calculated on a percentage of the ordinary wages of employees payable to the Corporation on a quarterly basis. Importantly, the financial performance of the scheme and the rate of the levy will be subject to regular independent actuarial reviews.
Employers will be required to register themselves and their employees, provide quarterly service record reports and pay the applicable levies. Penalty provisions for breaches will apply.
Industry employers and workers are encouraged to visit www.longservice.nsw.gov.au for further information or call 13 14 41.
Practical workshops will be held throughout metropolitan and regional New South Wales. The dates and locations of these will be publicised soon.
Members of peak organisations including the BSCAA, ACCA and United Voice will shortly receive information by mail or email.
Who does the scheme cover?
Full time, part time and casual cleaners employed by a business and some self-employed contractors who undertake cleaning work under contract.
Not all cleaners are covered by the scheme. Cleaners directly employed to perform cleaning duties by an office, shopping centre, school or hospital are not covered. If you are uncertain whether you or your workers are eligible, please contact the Corporation on 13 14 41.
Ruth and Juan both perform cleaning work but only one of them is eligible to register in the scheme:
Ruth is employed directly by the owner of a factory to clean the factory premises. Ruth is not covered by the scheme because she is not employed by a contract cleaning industry employer. However, she may be entitled to long service leave under the general Long Service Leave Act.
Juan is employed by a business that is contracted to provide cleaning services to the owner of a retail business. Juan is covered by the scheme because he is employed by a commercial cleaning contractor.
What are the benefits of the scheme?
Contract cleaning workers in New South Wales will be entitled to long service leave after completing 3650 days of service (10 years) with one or more employers in the industry.
The long service leave entitlement after 10 years is 8.67 weeks paid at ordinary wages (not including overtime).
A pro rata entitlement to payment instead of leave will be available after five years recognised service in certain circumstances. The scheme benefits are equal to the leave entitlements provided by the NSW Long Service Leave Act 1955.
A bonus service credit of 365 days (1 year) will be given to all workers who are registered in the scheme by 1 January 2012. These workers will be recognised as ‘Foundation Workers’.
Relationship to the Long Service Leave Act 1955
The Scheme contains important provisions to clarify the nexus between its operation and existing benefits available to eligible works under the general Long Service Leave Act.
A contract cleaner who has nine (9) years’ service with a single employer and continues to be employed by them for 12 months following the commencement of the scheme will apply for long service leave in the usual manner.
In this scenario a split liability will apply. The employer remains directly responsible for the initial nine (9) years’ service and the scheme is liable for the payment in relation to the service accrued after 1 July 2011.
In practical terms the employer would pay the worker the full amount in the first instance and apply to the Corporation for reimbursement for monies paid on a pro rata basis.
How do I register in the scheme?
Employers and workers are encouraged to visit the Corporation website at www.longservice.nsw.gov.au or call 13 14 41 for more details.
Important information for Employers
* Existing industry employers must register in the scheme by 1 August 2011.
* New industry employers must register within one month of becoming an industry employer.
* Levies will be payable to the Corporation on a quarterly basis.
* Industry employers will be required to submit quarterly service reports which will be recorded in a register to be maintained by the Corporation.
* An industry employer must grant leave within 6 months of an eligible worker becoming entitled to take the leave. This can be extended by mutual agreement (to a maximum of five years beyond the accrual date).
Important information for Workers
* Workers (including contractors) may register themselves in the scheme at any time.
* Eligible workers may apply to their employer for long service leave after the completion of 10 years’ service in the contract cleaning industry.
* The Corporation will calculate and manage scheme payments.