National Employment Standards

All employees who are covered by the Fairwork Act 2009 are entitled to the 10 National Employment
Standards. Some of the NES have their own internal eligibility criteria, however, they are a general standard that must be met by most employers. In addition to the NES, an employee’s terms and conditions of employment generally come from an award or agreement. It is important that you as an employer are aware of the NES as employees have the right to bring action/mediation against you should any of these standards be breached.

What are the 10 NES Entitlements

The NES are set out in the Fair Work Act 2009 and comprise 10 minimum standards of employment. Each standard is covered in detail in Fairwork fact sheets, but in summary, the NES involve the following minimum entitlements:

  • Maximum weekly hours of work – 38 hours per week, plus reasonable additional hours.
  • Requests for flexible working arrangements – an entitlement allowing employees in certain circumstancesas set out in the Fair Work Act 2009 to request a change in their working arrangements because of those circumstances.
  • Parental leave and related entitlements – up to 12 months unpaid leave per employee, plus a right to request an additional 12 months unpaid leave, plus other forms of maternity, paternity and adoption related leave.
  • Annual leave – four weeks paid leave per year, plus an additional week for certain shift workers.
  • Personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave – 10 days paid personal/carer’s leave, two days unpaidcarer’s leave as required, and two days compassionate leave (unpaid for casuals) as required.
  • Community service leave – unpaid leave for voluntary emergency activities and leave for jury service, with an entitlement to be paid for up to 10 days for jury service.
  • Long service leave – a transitional entitlement for employees.
  • Public holidays – a paid day off on a public holiday, except where reasonably requested to work.
  • Notice of termination and redundancy pay – up to five weeks notice of termination and up to 16 weeks severance pay on redundancy (if applicable, see below Fairwork link), both based on length of service.
  • Provision of a Fair Work Information Statement – must be provided by employers to all new employees,and contains information about the NES, modern awards, agreement-making, the right to freedom of association, termination of employment, individual flexibility arrangements, union rights of entry, transfer of business, and the respective roles of the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman.

How does the NES Apply

The NES apply to all employees covered by the national workplace relations system regardless of the applicable industrial instrument or contract of employment. Terms in awards, agreements, and employment contracts cannot exclude or provide for an entitlement less than the NES, and have no effect.

An employer must not contravene a provision of the NES. A contravention of a provision of the NES may result in penalties of up to $10,800 for an individual and $54,000 for a corporation.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this site is for general guidance on matters of interest only. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting, tax, legal or other competent advisers.

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