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The Queensland Government has passed legislation to establish a new portable long service leave scheme available for community services workers. The scheme seeks to reward workers for service to the industry by ensuring they receive long service leave benefits, even if they change employers.

Under the scheme, employers in the community services industry will be required to register their business or organisation with QLeave.
The scheme starts on 1 January 2021, so community services organisations must start preparing for the upcoming changes now.

QLeave is the statutory authority administering existing portable long service leave schemes in Queensland and will be the authority for the community services industry portable long service leave scheme.

How does it work?

As an employer, you must register with QLeave and submit quarterly employer returns. These returns detail the total of ordinary wages paid to your workers during the return period.

Qleave will record the time worked and wages received by each worker. This results in service credits accruing towards a worker’s long service leave entitlement.
Workers can check their service record online at any time. If any service is missing, workers should contact their employer/s.

You’re an employer in the Queensland community services industry if:

  • your organisation is established to or has a purpose to provide community services
  • you are an individual who is self-employed and provides community services (registration optional)
  • you provide labour-hire services that supply an organisation with an individual to perform community services work
  • you are an entity prescribed by regulation to be an employer (An employer does not include the Commonwealth, State or Local Government)

How much does it cost?

There is no fee to register with QLeave. However, registered employers pay a levy based on the ordinary wages of their workers. The levy collected is invested, and the accumulated funds then pay the workers’ long service leave claims.

Who is eligible?

Workers in Queensland’s community services industry who:

  • perform community services work, or
  • support the provision of community services (for example, administrative and/or executive staff).

This includes workers who:

  • are engaged as a full-time, part-time or casual employee
  • are engaged under a contract for service, including labour hire workers
  • operate as a sole trader
  • work for both for-profit and not-for-profit organisations.

Community service work covered by the scheme

From the Community Services Industry Act 2020:
The “community services industry” is the industry in which entities provide community services in Queensland.  Types of “community services” as prescribed by the Act are:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community services
  • Accommodation support services
  • Alcohol and other drug services
  • Child safety and support services
  • Community development services
  • Community education services
  • Community legal services
  • Counselling services
  • Disability emergency response services
  • Disability support services
  • Employment services
  • Family and domestic violence services
  • Family daycare services
  • Financial counselling services
  • Foster care and out-of-home care services
  • Home and community care services
  • Homelessness support services
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex services
  • Mental health services
  • Migrant and multicultural support services
  • Offenders transitioning services
  • Respite services
  • Seniors community support services
  • Social housing services
  • Violence prevention services
  • Women’s services
  • Youth justice services
  • Youth support services

Who is not eligible?

Some community services workers are not eligible to join QLeave.

These include:

  • federal, state and local government workers
  • workers engaged to perform work unrelated to the purpose of providing community service
  • workers in standalone childcare and early childhood education centres, kindergartens and school-based childcare services
  • workers employed in aged care, in a nursing home or retirement village delivered by a standalone aged care provider or service.

If you engage only workers that are not eligible to join QLeave, you’re not required to register with the scheme.

What are the steps from here?

1.     Register
If you’re an employer in the community services industry in Queensland and engage one or more eligible workers to perform community services work, you must register with QLeave. Registrations are now open.

Please note: Registration is compulsory, and penalties may be imposed if you fail to register. You must register within 7 days of becoming an employer in the community services industry.

2.     Inform QLeave of your workers’ service each quarter
It’s a legislative requirement that employers give details to QLeave about their workers’ service each quarter. You can do this when you complete your quarterly an employer return.

You must provide details to QLeave about your workers’ service and wages on a quarterly basis. You can do this by completing an Employer Return.

The time worked and wages received are recorded against your worker’s QLeave membership and counts towards their long service leave benefit. The return is a list of all eligible workers recorded by Qleave as being employed by you or your company.

If you have additional workers that are eligible and don’t appear on the list, you’ll need to add them.

Due dates

Due dates for submitting Employer Returns and paying the levy are:

  • 14 January
  • 14 April
  • 14 July
  • 14 October

Avoid penalties

It’s a legislative requirement to submit the Employer Return by the due date. There are penalties should returns not be lodged by the due date.
Failure to lodge the return may result in QLeave commencing prosecution, without further notice to you. Prosecution may result in a conviction and fine for each worker not included on your return. You may also have to compensate QLeave for costs incurred due to legal action.

3.     Pay a quarterly levy based on your workers’ ordinary wages
You’re required to pay a levy each quarter based on the ordinary wages of your workers as reported on your employer return. The current levy rate is 1.35% of workers’ ordinary wages.

Payment options include credit card, BPay and EFT.

4.     Books and records
QLeave conducts random inspections of registered employers’ books and records to check compliance with their obligations.

QLeave Compliance and Liaison Officers are authorised to perform inspections of employers’ books and records, to check compliance with their obligations.

You must keep books and records for six years after the last entry was made in the book or record which include:

  • worker’s full name, address and date of birth
  • worker’s QLeave membership number
  • type of work performed
  • periods, and proportions of the periods, during which the worker performed the eligible work
  • any award details for each worker (where applicable)
  • Time and wage records, such as timesheets, that show the hours of work should be maintained for all workers, including working directors and labour-only subcontractors. These will need to be produced for a books and records inspection.

Long service leave claims

Workers, who are employed by the same employer for ten or more continuous years, may be entitled to long service leave paid by the employer under the Industrial Relations Act 2016.

If you pay long service leave to a worker under the Industrial Relations Act 2016, you may claim reimbursement from QLeave for some, or all, of the payment made to the worker. You will only be able to claim reimbursement for service that is recorded with QLeave (from 1 January 2021).

Paying long service leave under the Industrial Relations Act 2016

Workers, who are employed by the same employer for ten or more continuous years, may be entitled to long service leave paid by the employer under the Industrial Relations Act 2016. The portable long service leave scheme doesn’t replace an employer’s obligation to pay long service leave to their worker/s.

Claim reimbursement for long service leave paid to a worker

QLeave may reimburse you for some, or all, of the payment you make to the worker. You must lodge your claim for reimbursement to QLeave within three months of the day you paid long service leave to the worker. The payment is calculated in accordance with the legislation and is based on the wages declared for the individual worker.

To ensure you receive the maximum amount reimbursed, you need to include an Employer Return detailing service in the most recent quarter and the levy payment for the worker up to the date of leave, especially if the worker is retiring or resigning from the company.

Employers can apply for reimbursement by completing an Employer Claim form.

For QLeave to process an employer reimbursement, they require proof that you made the long service leave payment to the worker. A copy of the pay-slip indicating long service leave paid, or an extract from the payroll system confirming payment should be attached to the claim form.

How Can MGI Help You

If you are a Community Organisation that may be impacted and need assistance understanding the potential financial impact, please contact us for a free consultation.

(This blog is an update to the previously posted blog on this scheme 12 July 2020)

About the author

Steve Greene

Director, Audit & External CFO Services, Auditor Brisbane

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