Employee entitlements

There are rules about what employees get at work, such as what hours they work and how often they have to have a break. These rules can be set out in different places such as an award, registered agreement Link opens external website in new tab or an employment contract.

An employee's minimum entitlements are set out in the National Employment Standards (NES) Link opens external website in new tab and awards. A registered agreement or employment contract can provide for other entitlements but they can't be less than what's in the NES or the award that applies.

To test your knowledge on common employee entitlements such as flexible working arrangements and types of employment, try the Fair Work Ombudsman's (FWO) Workplace Basics quiz Link opens external website in new tab. You'll get feedback and links to helpful resources, as well as a certificate of completion at the end.

Types of employees

Employees get different entitlements depending on their type of employment. 

Find out about these types of employees:

More about types of employees ↗

National Employment Standards

The National Employment Standards (NES) are 10 minimum employment entitlements that have to be provided to all employees.

The national minimum wage and the NES make up the minimum entitlements for employees in Australia. An award, employment contract, enterprise agreement or other registered agreement can't provide for conditions that are less than the national minimum wage or the NES. They can’t exclude the NES.

The 10 minimum entitlements of the NES are:

Pay Calculator Link opens external website in new tab

Go to the FWO's list of public holidays page Link opens external website in new tab for a full list of public holidays in your state or territory.

For a quick overview of public holidays, watch the FWO's short video Link opens external website in new tab to understand who is entitled to take a day off on a public holiday and what should be paid.

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Employees can take leave for many reasons, including to go on a holiday, because they are sick or to take care of sick family members.

Minimum leave entitlements for employees come from the National Employment Standards (NES) Link opens external website in new tab. An award, registered agreement Link opens external website in new tab or contract of employment can provide for other leave entitlements but they can’t be less than what’s in the NES.

You can test your knowledge on leave entitlements with the FWO's Workplace Basics quiz Link opens external website in new tab, which will also give you feedback and links to helpful resources on leave entitlements.

Awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements Link opens external website in new tab have rules about how an employee's hours of work should be set.

Find out about these rules and how they apply under your award:

More about hours of work, breaks & rosters ↗

Flexibility in the workplace

Flexibility in the workplace allows employers and employees to make arrangements about working conditions that suit them. This helps employees maintain a work/life balance and can help employers improve the productivity and efficiency of their business.

As long as employees are still receiving their minimum entitlements, employers and employees can negotiate ways to make their workplace more flexible. Examples include changing what hours are worked and where work is performed.

There are 2 formal ways employers and employees can make their workplace more flexible:

  • flexible working arrangements - certain employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements
  • individual flexibility agreements - employers and employees can negotiate to change how certain terms in an award, enterprise agreement or other registered agreement apply to them.

More about flexibility in the workplace ↗

Uniforms, vehicle & travel entitlements

As part of their job, employees may be required to:

  • wear uniforms
  • drive vehicles and/or
  • travel to other locations.

In these situations an employee may be entitled to a payment or repayment, depending on the industry and the job they do.

Employees required to buy work related items can’t be forced by their employer to use their wages to pay for these items, if the requirement is unreasonable.

If you're covered by an enterprise agreement or other registered agreement Link opens external website in new tab, payments for uniforms, vehicles and travel will be contained in your agreement. To find an agreement, go to the Fair Work Commission website Link opens external website in new tab.

More about uniforms, vehicle & travel entitlements ↗

Managing performance & warnings

Effective performance management creates a harmonious and productive workplace which is beneficial for both employees and employers. Find out more:

Notice and Redundancy Calculator Link opens external website in new tab to calculate notice and redundancy entitlements.

Look at:

More about notice & final pay ↗


Redundancy happens when an employer either:

  • doesn't need an employee’s job to be done by anyone, or
  • becomes insolvent or bankrupt.

Redundancy can happen when the business:

  • introduces new technology (eg. the job can be done by a machine)
  • slows down due to lower sales or production
  • closes down
  • relocates interstate or overseas
  • restructures or reorganises because a merger or takeover happens.

For a quick overview of what redundancy is, watch the FWO's short video Link opens external website in new tab to understand when redundancy occurs and who is eligible.

More about redundancy ↗

Bullying & harassment

Everyone has a right not to be bullied or harassed at work. There are national anti-bullying laws and state or territory health and safety bodies that can help people with bullying and harassment in the workplace. 

If you're not sure if you're covered by the state or territory laws or the national laws, see Who is protected from bullying in the workplace Link opens external website in new tab.

For more information on the national anti-bullying laws, who can take action, and applying for an order to stop workplace bullying, contact the Fair Work Commission Link opens external website in new tab.

For information on the state or territory laws about workplace health and safety, contact the workplace health and safety body Link opens external website in new tab in your state or territory.

Find general information here about:

More about bullying & harassment ↗

Protections at work

All employees have protected rights at work. These protected rights include:

Employees can’t be treated differently or worse because they possess or have exercised a right, or for a discriminatory reason. Employees are protected from:

More about protections at work ↗

Industrial action & union membership

Industrial action

Industrial action may be taken by employers or employees to settle a workplace dispute about working conditions. Find out more about Industrial action Link opens external website in new tab including:

  • what industrial action is protected
  • the consequences for taking unprotected industrial action.

Union membership

Unions play an important role in the workplace. Their key roles include acting as employee representatives during workplace disputes and acting as a bargaining representative during bargaining negotiations. Find out more about:

More about industrial action & union membership ↗

When businesses change owners

Change of business owners often occurs where there is a sale of business. It is also known as a 'transfer of business'. This can affect an employee's entitlements.

What's a transfer of business?

A transfer of business is when all of the following happen:

  • an employee begins working for the new employer within three months of ending their job with a previous employer
  • the employee's duties are the same or nearly the same as they were for the previous employer
  • there is a 'connection' between the previous and new employers.

An employee that moves from the old employer to the new employer in a transfer of business is called a 'transferring employee'.

What's a 'connection' between employers?

There may be a connection between employers when one or more of the following occurs:

  • the old employer sells some or all of the businesses 'assets' to the new employer (eg. machinery or computer systems)
  • the employers are 'associated entities', meaning they are related bodies corporate or one has some controlling interest in the other
  • the old employer outsources the work the employee does to the new employer, or
  • the new employer stops outsourcing work to the old employer.

What covers employees during a transfer of business?

When businesses change owners, a transferring employee can either:

  • if they were covered by an enterprise agreement or other registered agreement Link opens external website in new tab, remain covered by the same agreement as they were before transferring (this will continue to apply until the award or agreement stops operating or is replaced) or
  • if they were covered by an award, switch to the award covering the new employer.

More about when businesses change owners ↗


Need more information?

For further information, advice or assistance please contact the ABCC at 1800 003 338 or enquiry@abcc.gov.au.