Long service leave win for cleaners, guards

Jadwiga Dadok has worked as a cleaner at the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages for the past 27 years.

Long enough for a person to have conceivably ticked off all three lifetime events for which records are kept in that Collins Street building, but not long enough for Ms Dadok to have been granted access to long service leave.

For while her job stayed the same, her employer has changed regularly, cancelling out accrued leave each time.

Contract cleaners and security guards have been granted access to portable long service leave.

Photo: REUTERS

“I worked in the same building but the contractors keep changing every two, three years, maybe sometimes five,” she said.

“They keep changing and nobody has long service leave because you only get it when you do 10 years for one company.”

Ms Dadok says she missed out on visiting her mother in Poland before she died and lost time with her children when they were growing up, because she worked at night and couldn’t take more than one month’s leave per year.

But laws passed in Victorian Parliament on Wednesday will for the first time give those who work in community services, security and contract cleaning access to long service leave benefits after seven years' employment.

A portable long service leave scheme will commence in the middle of next year, the Andrews government said. It follows a 2016 parliamentary inquiry report that described existing laws as inequitable.

“The new laws will enable people who have worked, often at the same job, for more than seven years to take time off with their families like so many other Victorians are entitled to do,” Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins said.

The legislative change follows a years long campaign by United Voice, the union for workers in industries including hospitality, casinos and cleaning.

United Voice Victorian Secretary Jess Walsh said the reform would be life-changing for many cleaners and guards.

“Victoria would grind to a halt without these workers,” Ms Walsh said. “They work around the clock, year-in, year-out, keeping our buildings clean and safe, but too often their loyalty and dedication went unrecognised.

"That changes today."

At 64, Ms Dadok said the change had come too late for her.

She expects to retire without having taken long service leave, but said she was thrilled all the same that the state government had seen through these reforms.

“I won’t benefit but I’m [happy] for the thousands of other people who work in this industry,” she said.

"This legislation about the portable long service leave is beautiful."

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