What are the National Employment Standards?

The National Employment Standards (NES) are a set of ten minimum workplace standards. The NES covers all employees working in Australia who come under the national system.

The NES came into operation on 1 January 2010. All modern awards and registered agreements are underpinned by the NES, for minimum workplace conditions.

Together with the pay rates in modern awards and minimum wage orders, the NES makes up the safety net that cannot be altered to the disadvantage of the employee.

The 10 standards that make up the NES

1. Maximum weekly hours of work—38 hours per week (for full-time employees), plus reasonable additional hours.

2. Requests for flexible working arrangements—allows parents or carers of a child under school age, or of a child under 18 with a disability, to request a change in working arrangements to assist with the child’s care.

3. Parental leave and related entitlements—up to 12 months unpaid leave for every employee if they have completed 12 months of continuous service with their employer, plus a right to request an additional 12 months unpaid leave, and other forms of maternity and adoption related leave. Parental leave also extends to casual employees if they meet certain requirements.

4. Annual leave—four weeks paid leave per year, plus an additional week for certain shift workers. This does not extend to casuals.

5. Personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave—10 days paid personal/carer’s leave for permanent employees (other than casual employees), two days unpaid carer’s leave as required (extends to casuals). Two days paid compassionate leave (unpaid for casuals) as required.

6. 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. Payment for jury service does not extend to casuals.

7. Long service leave—a transitional entitlement for employees who had certain long service leave entitlements before 1 January 2010 pending the development of a uniform national long service leave standard.

8. Public holidays—a paid day off on a public holiday for permanent employees (unpaid for casuals), except where reasonably requested to work.

9. Notice of termination and redundancy pay—up to four weeks notice of termination (five weeks if the employee is over 45 and has at least two years of continuous service) and up to 16 weeks redundancy pay, both based on length of service.

10. Provision of a Fair Work Information Statement—employers must provide this statement to all new employees. It contains information about the NES, modern awards, agreement-making, the right to freedom of association, termination of employment, individual flexibility arrangements, right of entry, transfer of business, and the respective roles of the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman.