Temporary changes to Long Service Leave rules during COVID-19

Article By: Tania Schiff, Lawyer Cappello Rowe Lawyers Sydney


Recent temporary amendments to the Long Service Leave Act 1995 provides employees with greater flexibility in accessing their long service leave entitlements. The changes also provide additional options for employers as to how they remunerate their staff during the ongoing crisis.


The temporary amendments to the Act commence on 25 March 2020 and end on 25 September 2020, with the ability for the government to extend the period by a further 6 months by regulation.


Accrual of Long Service

In NSW, workers have the right to 2 months paid leave after completion of 10 years service with an employer, and then an additional 1 month for every 5 years thereafter.


Temporary changes to the Act

The changes to the Act, enables employers and employees to reach mutual agreement regarding the taking of Long Service Leave, both in terms of the notice period required, and in the manner in which it may be taken.

Below is a table which sets out the changes made.


Covid 19 Provisions Usual Provisions
Period of Leave

(section 15A)


If the employer and employee agree, a worker can take a period of leave in 2 or more separate periods of not less than one day.


As an example, this will enable an employee to work three days a week and take two days long service leave in a period, or whatever flexible arrangement they can agree.

Section 4(3)(b)

Leave is required to be taken in one continuous period, or if the worker and the employer agree:

(i)                  Where leave amount is 2 months, in two separate periods;

(ii)                Where the amount of leave exceeds 2 months and less that 191/2 weeks, in two or three separate periods or where the amount exceeds 19 ½ weeks, in two, three or four separate periods.


The taking of Long Service Leave in advance

(section 15A)

Long Service Leave can be taken in advance where the employee and employer agree.


The employer and employee can agree as to how this leave can be taken.


Section 4(3A)

Long Service Leave can be taken in advance if agreed by the employer and employee, but it must be for a minimum period of one month.

Direction to Take Leave

(section 15A)

An employer may give less than one months’ notice to take Long Service Leave, if the employee agrees to the lesser period of notice.

Section 4(10)


An employer can direct a worker to take Long Service Leave, but at least one months notice must be given.

Accrual of Leave for Employees Stood down

(section 15C)


If a worker is stood down without pay between 11 March 2020 and 12 September 2020 (or such later date not later than 12 March 2021 prescribed by the regulations) as a direct or indirect result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the service of the worker is, despite the break, taken to be continuous service and the worker continues to accrue long service leave while stood down.