Long Service Leave Contravention Upheld: Employment found to be Continuous

Under consideration by Industrial Magistrate Tsang was an application, seeking a review of a compliance notice issued by the respondent, Ms Catalucci, an Industrial Inspector, under the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA). The notice alleged that the applicant contravened the Long Service Leave Act 1958 (WA) by not paying pro rata long service leave to Mr McCormick upon his employment termination in October 2020. The compliance notice required the applicant to remedy the contravention by paying Mr McCormick $9,345.21.

The applicant did not dispute the employment period or the calculation but argued that Mr McCormick was not entitled to long service leave because his two employment periods were not continuous. The central legal question was whether the termination of Mr McCormick’s apprenticeship contract, leading to a break in employment, affected his entitlement to long service leave.

Tsang IM analysed the statutory construction of “continuous employment” under the Long Service Leave Act. Tsang IM rejected the applicant’s arguments, finding that the completion of the apprenticeship did not terminate Mr McCormick’s employment relationship, and his subsequent role as an Electrician constituted continuous employment. Tsang IM emphasised the ordinary meaning of the statute, its legislative purpose, and the absence of specific provisions deeming the termination of an apprenticeship as a break in continuous employment.

Ultimately, Tsang IM concluded that Mr McCormick’s employment was continuous, lasting from 23 October 2012 to 29 October 2020. Consequently, the applicant was obligated to pay pro rata long service leave, and since the company failed to prove otherwise, the compliance notice was confirmed, and the application was dismissed.

The decision can be read here.