Most South Australian workers receive 13 weeks long service leave after 10 years' service with an employer, or related employers, with pro rata entitlement after 7 years.

Private sector workers are covered by the national workplace relations system, most receiving their long service leave entitlements from the South Australian Long Service Leave Act 1987 (the Act). Local government workers are also covered by this Act.

Other arrangements apply to workers:

If you're unsure about your entitlements or to discuss your situation in more detail, please email help.safework@sa.gov.au or call our Help Centre on 1300 365 255.

A worker who has completed 10 years of service is entitled to 13 weeks long service leave. A further 1.3 weeks leave is granted for each completed year of service thereafter.

Part-time and casual workers accrue their entitlements just like full-time workers. However, the payment for a period of leave is based on the ordinary hours worked per week or the average weekly hours over the previous 3 years of service.

Long service leave does not accrue during unpaid parental leave or other unpaid leave granted to a worker.

To work out your entitlement you will need to know:

  • your employment start date
  • your projected long service leave date or termination date
  • any periods of leave without pay
  • any periods of long service leave already taken.

The rate of long service leave accrual differed prior to 1972. If your employment pre-dates 1972 please contact us at help.safework@sa.gov.au or call our Help Centre on 1300 365 255.

An entitlement to long service leave only arises when your service is continuous.

Any period of annual leave, long service leave, paid or unpaid sick leave and workers compensation will count as service and not break continuity of service. This is also the case for any absence in accordance with a contract of service, such as a pre-determined business shut down, or if you are an apprentice re‑employed by the same employer within 12 months of completing an apprenticeship.

Sick leave

Paid or unpaid, sick leave counts as service. In calculations, any full week that has zero hours (i.e. if sick leave is not used to cover absence) must be a zero hours week regarding service, but an extra week of working hours is to be added onto the 156 working weeks calculation.

Leave without pay

All workers are entitled to take leave, but some workers are not entitled to paid leave.

Your continuity of service is also not affected by unpaid leave, however these breaks from work are not to be taken into account in calculating your period of service with the employer.

For unpaid leave to be counted towards service, leave dates must be confirmed and agreed upon. Dates can be re-negotiated, but must be agreed to by the employer.

A casual employee can take leave (including unpaid) that is more than a 2 month period without breaking their service. The leave dates must be documented and have an end date (that is, take leave from 1 January through to 1 March 20XX), It cannot be left open ended (that is, a start date but no fixed end date).

Maternity/Paternity leave

While government-funded maternity or paternity leave does not count as service, it also does not break your service. Parental payments made to your employer to pass onto you, also does not count as service.

Your continuity of service is also not affected by unpaid parental leave however these breaks from work are not to be taken into account in calculating your period of service with the employer.

Workers can negotiate with their employer about how they take their long service leave. This could include the deferral of leave or taking leave in separate periods.

In the absence of an agreement, employers should grant long service leave:

  • as soon as practicable after the worker becomes entitled to the leave, taking into consideration the needs of the business
  • in one continuous period
  • with at least 60 days’ notice to the worker of the date from which leave is to be taken.

Pro-rata leave

If you wish to access your long service leave after 7 years (but less than 10 years) and you are still in your employment, you must discuss your options with your employer. The Long Service Leave Act does not detail an employer's obligation for workers who wish to take pro-rata long service leave and who are still in their employ.

If you leave your employment or your employment is terminated after 7 years of service, but less than 10 years, you are entitled to the monetary equivalent of 1.3 weeks leave for each completed year of service. This is often referred to as pro-rata long service leave.

You are not entitled to a pro-rata payment if your employment is terminated on the grounds of serious and wilful misconduct, or if you unlawfully terminated your employment, such as failure to give the required amount of notice upon termination.

Full-time workers

Full-time workers are entitled to be paid at their ‘ordinary weekly rate of pay’. Ordinary weekly rate of pay means a workers weekly wage at the time of taking the leave excluding penalty rates and overtime.

The simple calculation is the employees standard weekly hours (typically 37.5 or 38 hours) multiplied by their current base hourly rate of pay.

The calculations above is based on the worker having been employed full-time for at least the last three years of their service. If not, refer to the payment for part-time and casual workers.

Workers on commission

If a worker is paid on commission or part fixed rate / part commission or some other system of payment by result, the weekly rate of pay is calculated by averaging the weekly earnings over the 12 months immediately preceding the day of taking leave.

Part-time & casual workers

Part-time & casual workers will generally work variable weekly hours even if there are some periods of fixed weekly hours. This may include a period of full-time employment.

A workers weekly rate of pay is determined by averaging the number of hours worked per week in the three years (156 weeks) immediately before taking leave and multiplying that result by the workers current base hourly rate of pay.

For a casual, the base hourly rate includes the casual loading.

When averaging hours for part-time and casual workers, ALL hours worked are counted. This includes overtime.

The 156 week averaging period does not have to be consecutive and does not include weeks where the worker:

  • was on unpaid leave for the whole of the week (including for reasons of illness or injury), or
  • was absent from work on account of work injury (within the meaning of the Return to Work Act 2014).

For example, if worker has taken two separate periods of 4 weeks unpaid leave in the preceding 3 years, you would need to count back 164 weeks in order to determine the 156 week averaging period (156 + 8 weeks).

However, where a worker (normally a casual) is granted leave in accordance with their employment contract (e.g. Christmas shutdown or holiday periods for employment associated with educational facilities), the weeks of absence count towards service and are included in the 156 week averaging period.

For any further clarification required on the averaging process for part-time and casual workers, please contact the SafeWork SA Help Centre on 1300 365 255.

Payment by result (sales driven income)

A worker is entitled to 13 weeks long service leave after 10 years of completed service. Payment is based upon the average of the last 12 months of income (include commission, sales, retainers etc). To calculate the weekly entitlement, add together all income from the immediate 12 month period prior to the leave date, and divided by 52.

A worker who earns commission is a sales driven income, not a bonus by volume of work completed. For example, a worker who earns $20 per shoe made in a day, receives a payment by result (i.e. they only get paid for each shoe they make, regardless if a retainer is paid).

Target based income & bonuses

A worker who receives a bonus for achieving a target, is not a worker whose payment is by result. For example, a worker who gets paid an hourly rate but earns a bonus for making over 100 shoes in a day, is not receiving a payment by result. The worker still gets their normal pay, and has the opportunity to earn a bonus.

Workers who receive a hourly rate must have the full-time, part-time or casual employment condition calculations applied.

Payment for long service leave must be made:

  • in advance for the whole period of leave, or
  • like wages would have been paid if the worker was at work, or
  • in some other way agreed to by the employer and the worker, or
  • immediately, if it’s a payment in lieu at the time of employment termination.

You can agree with your employer to ‘cash out’ either the whole or part of an accrued long service leave entitlement. Any such agreement must be recorded in writing and signed by both parties.

If a business has been sold and a worker continues to be employed by the new employer, then in most circumstances the worker’s service will not be broken and is deemed continuous.

It’s the new employer’s responsibility to negotiate with the outgoing employer regarding any long service leave liability of a worker.

Employers must keep records relating to long service leave throughout a worker’s service, and for at least 3 years after termination of employment. Workers are also entitled to inspect these records.

You can use our records template for this purpose. This completed sample shows how to fill in the template.

However employers don’t need to use this template if they already, promptly and accurately, keep wages, leave or other similar records, either in hard copy or electronic form.

You should initially attempt to resolve any long service leave dispute directly with your employer. If this fails, you can lodge a claim with us and one of our inspectors will investigate and help resolve the matter. If necessary we will take appropriate action as provided by the Act.

If your claim is found to be invalid or there isn’t enough evidence for us to pursue the matter further, you will be notified accordingly. This does not prevent you from taking action in the South Australian Employment Tribunal.

The National Employment Standards are 10 minimum employment entitlements, which include long service leave that must be provided to all workers with workplace arrangements in place before 1 January 2010.

The Act does not apply if long service leave entitlements in a federal award or agreement would have covered an employer and their workers before that date.

More information is available from the Fair Work Ombudsman or phone 13 13 94 (note there may be a wait before your call is answered - please be patient).

Your long service leave entitlements are defined through legislation and a Determination of the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment if:

  • you are employed in the South Australian Public Service in an administrative unit or attached office, as defined by the Public Sector Act 2009
  • your employment has been declared by another Act or the Regulations.

If in doubt, talk to someone from human resources within your agency.

If you work in the construction industry, under the Construction Industry Long Service Leave Act 1987 you can qualify for long service leave based on your service to the industry, rather than to just one employer.

Employers must register with Portable Long Service Leave and pay a levy every 2 months to the Construction Industry Fund. The current levy rate (as of 1 January 2019) of 2% is fixed by the Construction Industry Long Service Leave Board.

When your long service leave entitlement is due, you get paid from this fund.

For enquiries phone Portable Long Service Leave on 8332 6111 or Toll Free (SA country only) 1800 182 124.