Call for the end of the “obsolete” long service leave

Call for the end of the “obsolete” long service leave

An Australian workplace coach who believes long-term company loyalty is dead calls for an end to long tenure.

Australian workers are entitled to long-term leave under the National Employment Standards.

Details vary depending on state law and industry instruments such as an award or agreement, but it is designed to reward paid leave to people who have worked continuously for the same employer for between seven and 15 years.

Some states like Victoria have a new transferable long-term leave system for community service, contract cleaning and security workers, meaning they can increase long-service entitlements and transfer them from job to job.

Victoria Mills, who has been a workplace coach for 20 years and founded the Australian start-up Hello Coach, thinks the concept of long service is outdated.

“While it may have acted as an incentive for previous generations, long-term loyalty for employees is fast becoming a thing of the past,” she said.

“…Australian executives are better off spending their money on strategies to keep employees in the here and now than expecting that a payment ten years from now will incentivize employees to stay.”

Ms Mills believes the scheme doesn’t fit with Australia’s current ‘Tinder workforce’, where if employees aren’t happy with their current job, they simply ‘swipe’ to the next job.

She pointed to a McCrindle Research Future of Education 2021 report, which predicts that today’s students will have 18 jobs in six careers in their lifetime.

This is because the workforce has become increasingly digital and mobile, leading to “adaptive and fluid” career paths.

The latest job mobility data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that of the 13.4 million workers in February, 55 percent had been in their job for less than five years.

About 1.5 (21 percent) had been in their job for less than a year, up from 18 percent the previous year.

About 1 in 10 workers (11 percent) has been in their current job for 20 years or more.

As of February, 1.3 million people (or 9.5 percent of the labor force) changed jobs, the highest annual job mobility rate since 2012.

Ms Mills said Australian companies are under “incredible pressure” to retain and attract talent and need to think about what they could offer their employees today – including more upfront bonus structures, education and wellness programmes.

“We are currently experiencing the biggest generational change in the workforce in half a century. The youngest of the baby boomers are leaving, and in their place are Gen X and Gen Y leaders,” she said.

“They are a mobile generation and want flexibility. They don’t feel compelled to stay in a job like their former peers, and employers need to adjust to that.”

News.com.au asked Ms Mills how employees could be reassured that companies would give them benefits other than long furloughs if it was scrapped.

“It’s really important that workers are protected by government systems, but in this case society has changed and with it the employment patterns and protections have to change,” she said.

“I would definitely support policymakers in reengineering pay to make it more appropriate for workers in this century, which in the ‘now’ could include mandatory welfare entitlements.”

The concept of long official leave in Australia is said to date back to the 19th century when long-serving officials were given time to travel home to Britain.

Ray Markey, professor emeritus of industrial relations at Macquarie University, told ABC in 2019: “The time they got was about the same as it took for a round trip on a clipper sailing ship – two weeks in the home country and then back again.”

Asked what the Australian Council of Trade Unions thought of the call to end long-term leave, Deputy Secretary Liam O’Brien said it was an important right that needed to be “adapted to our modern economy, not dismantled”.

“Long-term leave and all other forms of leave should be transferrable between jobs and follow workers through their careers,” he told news.com.au.

“Like our collective bargaining laws, the laws governing this entitlement are no longer consistent with the way the workforce operates and should be modernized.”

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