Is long service leave an anachronism?

As of close of business this afternoon, I am on long service leave. But is this an anachronistic institution?

Certainly long service leave’s historical rationale is no longer compelling. It began in South Australia and Victoria in the 1860s as a scheme that allowed civil servants 6-12 months leave to go home to Britain after 10 years service in the colonies. Given the lengthy transit times a substantial period off work was necessary to make the trip to Europe. Obviously this is no longer the case.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that long service leave became widespread in the private sector, and it is now a statutory right. No other country incorporates such a right into their labour market regulations.

Criticism of long service leave is not confined to free marketeers. Some people say that changes in labour market conditions towards more casual and contract employment mean that long service leave is less relevant. Continue reading “Is long service leave an anachronism?”