Portable Long Service Leave for Community Services – what employers need to do

The Queensland Parliament passed legislation in mid-2020 to include community service workers in the portable long service leave (PLSL) regime that had previously been introduced for the contract cleaning and building sectors. The Community Services Industry (Portable Long Service Leave) Act 2020 (Qld) (the Act) and Community Services Industry (Portable Long Service Leave) Regulation 2020 (Qld) (the Regulations) took effect on 1 July 2020 and requires employers in the community service sector to register with QLeave (the authority formed to administer PLSL) from 1 January 2021.

The PLSL provides community service workers access to long service leave provisions that might not otherwise be available because of the short-term nature of engagements in the industry.

The PLSL applies to both for-profit and not-for-profit organisations in the Queensland community services industry, and provision has been made for recognition of service in a similar programme with partner states in the future.

PLSL will provide workers with an entitlement after 7 years’ service with accrual at the rate of the existing statutory entitlement of 8.67 weeks after 10 years’ service as prescribed in the Industrial Relations Act 2016 (IR Act).

The PLSL legislation requires employers to pay a levy calculated on an employee’s ordinary wages and report on an employee’s service, on a quarterly basis. There is also provision for refund of relevant levy amounts if an employee completes service with the employer so that they would be entitled to long service leave, even though they have not qualified under the PLSL programme.

In short, the PLSL does not alter the entitlements of existing long term employees, but provides access to employees who in the past have not been able to access long service leave because of the nature of their work.

Employers have until the end of March 2021 to register and will then be required submit quarterly returns and pay the levy from April 2021, with the first quarterly return due on 14 April 2021. Returns can be submitted online and payments made electronically.

However, some community service employers are finding the programme confusing and, in this article and attached guide, we look at how PLSL came about for the community service sector, how it effects employers and what your NFP or social enterprise needs to do to ensure you comply with the PLSL legislation.

Summary of key considerations

Employers engaging workers in community services must register with QLeave by the end of March 2021 to avoid the risk of penalties.[1]

Employers must notify QLeave of changes to the employer’s information within 28 days after the change happens.

Registered employers must submit quarterly reports and levy payments no later than:

  • 14 April 2021;

  • 14 July 2021;

  • 14 October 2021;

  • 14 January 2022

and then ongoing in the same routine.

Employers must report the number of days each employee was engaged ( or ‘on the books’) in the quarter and the ordinary wages that were paid to each employee for that quarter.

The levy is 1.35% of the ordinary wages paid for each employee in the relevant quarter. For example, if you paid $125,000 to your workers in a quarter but $25,000 of that amount was for overtime, you will pay 1.35% on the $100,000 only, resulting in a levy payment of $1350.

Employers must maintain the prescribed records for all employees for at least 6 years after the last entry is made for the relevant employees. However, employers are required under federal legislation, to keep employment records for 7 years, so the PLSL obligations fit within existing obligations.

A more detailed guide is attached if you need further information about PLSL for your organisation, also attached is a brief video presentation.

If you are an employer in the community services sector and are unsure of your obligations under the PLSL scheme, NFP Lawyers can assist you. You can contact us at reception@nfplawyers.com.au or on 07 3160 0010.

[1] Section 54 of the Act requires that an entity must apply for registration on the register of employers within 28 days after becoming an employer. For the commencement of the scheme, section 126 of the Act extends the period for employers to register to 90 days after the commencement of the scheme, which is 1 January 2021.

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The material distributed is general information only. The information supplied is not and is not intended to be, legal or other professional advice, nor should it be relied upon as such. You should seek legal or professional advice in relation to your specific situation.