What are the National Employment Standards?
The National Employment Standards (NES) are 10 minimum legislative requirements to which all employees are entitled.
When your workplace makes an Enterprise Agreement, these agreements can provide superior entitlements, but cannot provide for anything less than provided for by the NES.
Pay rates are not covered by the NES – they’re specified in awards. It is illegal to pay an employee less than the award rate of pay.
The NES 10 minimum entitlements
Hours of work
38 hours per work plus reasonable additional hours. An employee can refuse unreasonable additional hours.
Flexible work for parents
An employee who has caring responsibilities for a child under school age or a child under 18 with a disability may request a change to workplace arrangements to accommodate caring responsibilities. This request can only be refused on reasonable business grounds.
An employee is entitled to 12 months unpaid parental leave and to seek a second period of 12 months unpaid leave. The request can only be refused on reasonable business grounds. The decision to refuse the request is not reviewable under the NES although Agreements can provide for a right to review this decision.
Employees are entitled to 4 weeks annual leave and shift workers 5 weeks. Agreements can allow employees to cash out annual leave by agreement, so long as the employee’s remaining accrued annual leave entitlement is 4 weeks. Agreement-free employees can cash out annual leave by agreement on the same conditions.
Personal, carers, compassionate leave
10 days personal/carers leave. An employee is also entitled to an additional 2 days unpaid carer’s leave per occasion and 2 days paid compassionate leave per occasion. Agreements can allow employees to cash out personal leave by agreement, so long as the employee’s remaining personal leave entitlement is 15 days.
Community service leave
This applies for jury service and voluntary emergency management activities, such as CFA. Leave is unpaid, except for the first 10 days of jury service where the employee is not casual.
Long service leave
Employees are entitled to long service leave in accordance with pre-existing entitlements.
An employee is entitled to be absent from his/her employment on a day that is a public holiday where the employee is based. An employee may refuse a request to work on a public holiday if the request to work is unreasonable, or the reusal to work is reasonable.
Termination of employment and redundancy
An employer must give a minimum notice period for termination of employment and redundancy. The period is dependent on the years of service. Where an employee’s employment is terminated for redundancy reasons, the employee is entitled to redundancy pay. The amount of redundancy pay is dependent on the years of service.
Employers must give all employees on commencement of their employment a statement advising the employee of their entitlements and rights under the Act Statement to be published by Fair Work Australia.