Last week, the NSW Parliament made a number of amendments to various Acts in order to better regulate for the COVID-19 situation.

The Treasury Legislation Amendment (COVID-19) Bill introduced by NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrotet made changes to the Long Service Leave Act 1955 (LSL Act).

The changes have a six month sunset clause with provision for the changes to be extended for up to 12 months if circumstances require.

The changes to the LSL Act (included in the new section 15A) include:

  • That by agreement, employees may now take periods of long service leave for less than one month before the long service leave has actually accrued (the Act prior to amendment only allowed for blocks of one month’s leave in this situation)
  • That employers can give employees less than one month’s notice of taking long service leave (prior to the amendment at least one month’s notice was required).

In giving his second reading speech, the Treasurer stated that the aim of this and other amendments was to create enough flexibility to save jobs. He recognised that the current drafting of the LSL Act is quite inflexible in relation to the notice that must be given to an employee to take long service leave.

This gives employers further alternatives to stand down in circumstances where there is a need to reduce the number of employees working during the COVID-19 crisis. Importantly, it means that by agreement, employers and employees can use an employee’s long service leave accrual as an alternative source of income for the employee, avoiding the need to stand down the employee.

The above content is commentary rather than legal advice and was prepared on the basis of applicable legislation, government programs and initiatives that were in place as of the date of publication. Given the ongoing evolution of both the COVID-19 pandemic and frequent consequential changes to the various laws and programs within all Australian states and territories, readers should seek legal advice on the current situation as applicable to their specific circumstances before taking any action in relation to the above.