Under the Fair Work Act, the National Employment Standards (NES) sets out 10 minimum conditions of employment for workers. It has brought significant change to the Australian employment landscape.


The 10 matters covered by the NES are:

Maximum weekly hours of work

An employer must not request or require an employee to work more than the following hours of work in a week, unless the additional hours are reasonable:
o  for a full-time employee, 38 hours or
o  for an employee other than a full-time employee, the lesser of:
­  – 38 hours
­  – the employee’s ordinary hours of work in a week.

Requests for flexible working arrangements

An employee who is a parent, or has responsibility for the care of a child, may request a change in their working arrangements.

This request may be made by an employee to assist them to care for their child if the child is:
o  under school age (i.e. the age at which the child is required by the applicable State or Territory law to start attending school)
o  under 18 and has a disability.

Parental Leave

All employees in Australia are eligible for unpaid parental leave if they have completed at least 12 months of continuous service with their employer.

This includes casual employees, but only if:
o  they have been employed by the employer on a regular and systematic basis for a sequence of periods over at least 12 months
o  had it not been for the birth (or expected birth) or adoption (or expected adoption) of a child, they would have a reasonable expectation of continuing employment by the employer on a regular and systematic basis.

Annual Leave

An employee (other than a casual employee) is entitled to four weeks of paid annual leave for each year of service with the employer. An employee’s entitlement to annual leave accrues on a continuous basis according to the number of ordinary hours they worked. Annual leave continues to accrue when an employee takes a period of paid annual leave or paid personal/carer’s leave. Unless it is provided for in an award or agreement, annual leave will not accrue on any form of unpaid leave.

Personal / carer’s and compassionate leave

The term ‘personal/carer’s leave’ effectively covers both sick leave and carer’s leave. The minimum entitlement to paid personal/carer’s leave for an employee (other than a casual employee) is 10 days per year.

Community service leave

Employees, including casual employees, are entitled to be absent from work for the purpose of performing certain community service activities such as: a voluntary emergency management activity and jury service (including attendance for jury selection) that is required by or under a law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory.

Long service leave

Depending on the relevant State/Territory law or industrial instrument (such as an award or agreement), an employee may be entitled to long service leave after a period of continuous service ranging from seven to fifteen years with the same or a related employer.

Public Holidays

If an employee is absent from work on a day or part-day that is a public holiday, the employer must pay the employee (other than a casual employee) the base rate of pay for the employee’s ordinary hours of work on that day or part-day. The base rate of pay to be paid excludes incentive-based payments and bonuses, loadings, monetary allowances, overtime or penalty rates, or any other separately identifiable amounts.

Notice of Termination

An employer must not terminate an employee’s employment (subject to the exceptions set out below) unless they have given the employee written notice of the day of the termination.

An employer may give notice to the employee by:

o  delivering it personally, or
o  leaving it at the employee’s last known address, or
o  sending it by pre-paid post to the employee’s last known address.

A Fair Work information statement

An employer must give each new employee a copy of the Fair Work information statement before (or as soon as possible after) the employee starts his/her employment.

The Statement contains information about the following:
o  the NES
o  modern awards
o  agreement-making under the Fair Work Act 2009
o  the right to freedom of association
o  the role of the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman
o  termination of employment
o  individual flexibility arrangements
o  right of entry (including the protection of personal information by privacy laws)
o  an explanation of the effect on an employee’s entitlements under the NES if both of the following occur:
­  – a transfer of a business occurs as described in the Fair Work Act 2009
­  – the employee becomes a transferring employee.

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