Since 2008 the sector has seen: the creation of a new state award, the Queensland pay equity decision, Queensland’s referral of its industrial relations powers to the Commonwealth, award modernisation, the federal equal remuneration decision, two regulations and the provision of supplementary funding to some organisations from both the state and federal governments.
More recently there have been a number of government reforms processes affecting the sector. You can find out more about these in the Community Door section on social service reform.
This section can assist organisations and workers in the social, community, home care and disability services industry in Queensland. In this section you will find current news, resources and other information on the topic of industrial relations.
The COVID-19 outbreak has created significant changes to our usual work practices in Australia. Find out about how these changes impact your organisation here.
Portable Long Service Leave
In 2020 the Queensland Government passed legislation to establish portable long service leave for the community services sector. This was in response to a strong campaign to reward workers for their service to the industry, and to create incentive for sector to retain its valuable workforce – even when they change employers.
The scheme commenced 1 January 2021 with QLeave as the statutory authority administering the scheme. In essence, this scheme requires employers to pay a quarterly levy based on the ordinary wages of their employees. The levy is collected by QLeave and retained in a pool which can be accessed once a worker claims long service leave. During the implementation period QCOSS has been working closely with the Community Services Industry Alliance (CSIA) and member organisations to better understand the implications for the sector and how it can best support this transition for both employers and employees.
As the statutory authority administering portable long service leave for the community services sector in Queensland, QLeave has many resources available to assist employers, including a decision tree to self-assess whether they need to register for the scheme, or if they need to register their workers. The site also includes a list of FAQ and a stakeholder communication kit for assisting you to discuss the scheme with relevant stakeholders.
In addition to the information available through QLeave, QCOSS has been working with CSIA to gain further insight from sector organisations about implementing the scheme and seeking clarification to some of the questions they have.
What confirmation of registration can I expect?
You will receive immediate notification on the screen that your application has been submitted. An email confirming your registration will follow.
Do I need to do anything to follow up after registration?
No, QLeave sends a fortnightly e-newsletter to all registered employers. This will go to each contact in your organisation who is included on your registration. At the end of March, all contacts will receive an email to advise that the employer return is ready to complete and due on 14 April 2021. You will also receive instructions on how to complete the return and pay the levy.
What happens if an individual registers but the organisation they work for doesn’t include them in their eligibility?
At this stage, our system is set-up to receive employer registrations only. In the first instance, workers will only be registered through the employer return process. QLeave will then contact these workers in May/June (after the returns are submitted and the levies paid). It will notify the workers that their employer has registered them with the scheme. Workers should contact their employers if they believe they should be registered with QLeave.
The calculation of ‘ordinary earnings’ for PLSL is different to the calculation for superannuation. Why is this the case?
Ordinary wages are defined by the Community Services Industry (Portable Long Service Leave) Act 2020. A list of what is and isn’t included in ordinary wages is available here.
Will it be possible to do bulk upload of reimbursement claims (e.g. a spreadsheet) in the future, rather than a separate form for each person?
At this stage no, QLeave requires evidence for each claim, so this could not be provided through a spreadsheet.
Claiming LSL payments from QLeave
In what instances will the organisation need to claim payment back from the scheme?
An organisation will still need to recognise long service leave accrued under a worker’s employment contract. Where a worker reaches a long service leave entitlement with their employer they should claim their leave from that employer. The organisation can then claim reimbursement from QLeave for the leave accrued with QLeave, since 1 January 2021.
What does the organisation remain liable for and when does QLeave reimbursement start?
Only work performed after 1 January 2021 and recorded with QLeave counts towards a worker’s portable long service leave entitlement. Employers will still need to recognise any long service leave accrued with them, and their existing arrangements apply for leave accrued before the scheme started on 1 January 2021.
What does the organisation claim back from QLeave?
An organisation can claim reimbursement where they have paid long service leave to a worker for service accrued and recorded after 1 January 2021.
Does the long service leave payment include superannuation?
No. The ordinary wages reported to QLeave do not include superannuation. The levy is calculated on the ordinary wages reported. The claim payment does not include superannuation.
What are the consequences of “making a mistake”?
If an employer ‘makes a mistake’ when submitting their employer return, they will be required to supply the correct data to QLeave. The service recorded for the worker will be amended and an adjustment will be made to the levy amount.
What happens if a worker is not signed up at the right time – does it affect their entitlement?
If QLeave becomes aware that an eligible worker has not been registered with the scheme, it will work with the employer to provide an accurate employer return and levy payment for the missing service. The worker registration date can ‘go back’ a maximum of two years. However this date cannot be earlier than 1 January 2021. For example, if an employer submits a return in July 2024 and advises that a worker should have previously been registered with the scheme, QLeave cannot register the worker with a date that is before 1 July 2022.
What happens if an eligible organisation doesn’t join the scheme?
If QLeave becomes aware that a liable employer has not registered with the scheme, our compliance officers will investigate the matter and take the necessary action to ensure industry compliance.
Portable Long Service Leave case study example
We are a small neighbourhood centre and, like most neighbourhood centres, our budget is tight – every dollar really counts. While we value the portable long service leave scheme as a whole, it is difficult to put aside a cash levy every quarter for someone we know is very close to retirement and will not be utilising Long Service Leave. Where does this surplus money go?
We can tend to think of the levy as being attached to individual employees and the funds belonging to them specifically, like a bank account. With this perspective, it’s a sticking point that some people will be paid their portable long service leave from QLeave while working at a different organisation which paid the levy “for them”.
Another way to consider the levy is that it contributes to a pool that benefits everybody. The amount of each organisation’s contribution to the scheme is calculated by employee hours, but that money goes into a pool that your organisation can draw on at any time you need to pay someone portable long service leave. In time, this reduces the burden of fronting up with the cash after carrying a financial liability on your books for years.
In other portable long service leave schemes in Queensland and other states and territories, we have seen the levy percentage reduce as the pool builds up to a sustainable level. This is what we expect to happen with the Queensland community services scheme as well.
While right now there is a financial pinch for some organisations, there is an employee and sector level benefit that will benefit all of us in the long run.
Award coverage, regulations and rates of pay
Fair Work Australia provides up to date information on the social and community service industry pay rates
The Australian Government funded a National SACS Education and Information Program (EIP) for employers and employees in the community and disability services sectors about the changes to the industrial landscape following the introduction of the Social Community Home Care and Disability Services Industry (SCHADS) Modern Award and the outcome from the Equal Remuneration Order.
All enquiries about wages and employment conditions in the non-government sector should be directed to the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Both employers and employees
Fair Work Ombudsman: 13 13 94
Jobs Australia – Community Sector Industrial Relations Service: 1800 060 098
Australian Community Workers Association: 03 9642 5166
Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland: 1300 731 988
The Services Union: 07 3844 5300
Managing your organisation
Other sections on Community Door may be useful to organisations who are building their organisation’s sustainability or managing the organisational and human resource implications of rising wage costs. Check out the Resources menu at the top of this page.
Industrial relations resources
The Fair Work Commission provides a workplace relations education series consisting of mock hearings, lectures and invited papers on a range of workplace relations topics.
Information on the social and community service industry pay rates can be found on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website.