Better entitlements on the table for community service workers in NSW
The Minns Labor Government is moving towards extending the established and successful portable long service leave system in NSW.
The government is taking the first step towards fulfilling its election commitment, establishing a consultation process around the introduction of the system in the community service sector.
The move responds to the rise of insecure work in the disability and community sectors and forms part of the government’s commitment to attract and retain key workers in NSW.
Community sector workers are often employed on short-term contracts with multiple employers and don’t have access to long service leave, despite some working in the sector for more than a decade.
Led by Industrial Relations Minister Sophie Cotsis, the government will engage with stakeholders, including unions and employers, about the best way to extend the system to the community service sector.
A portable long service leave system for the community sector could follow the model for NSW contract cleaners, introduced by the previous Labor government in 2010, which provides a portable long service entitlement to workers who have performed work in the NSW contract cleaning industry for 10 years, regardless of whether they have worked for multiple employers or as a contractor, and includes casuals.
Our plan will bring NSW in line with other jurisdictions (ACT, Victoria and Queensland) that have already established portable leave schemes for these sectors. NSW cannot be left behind and must value these essential workers.
The disability sector has an annual turnover of 25% and the highest levels of casualisation in the care economy.
It is also experiencing a rise in gig work via platforms and apps that provide no leave provisions for workers.
And 75% of the 250,000 strong social services workforce in NSW are women.
A recent survey conducted by the NSW Council of Social Service said the care sector in NSW could lose up to 120,000 workers over the next 5 years, with poor pay and insecure work driving staff out.
The Minns Government is looking to find a solution to the high level of churn in these sectors, the cost this high turnover brings to employers and the impact it has on the continuity of care to clients.
The government will start work on the consultation process immediately and aim to have a bill to parliament in early-mid 2024, subject to the consultation process.
The announcement forms the first step towards the government implementing its broader commitment to introduce portable entitlements, including long service leave, for the community sector and gig economy.
Minister for Industrial Relations Sophie Cotsis said:
“There’s a predicted mass exodus in the community services sector. We are setting up a consultation process that cares about what the industry has to say.
“Workers in these industries have felt abandoned by the former government, which deprived them of basic entitlements, affecting their ability to get a loan, secure rental accommodation and support their families.
“We want to be getting the best out of our workforce, and it’s well known that a portable entitlements system for these industries recognises the service of these workers and helps retain staff.”