National Employment Standards - NES

The 11 National Employment Standards in Australia

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National Employment Standards

Employment Law

There are 11 National Employment Standards (NES) in Australia, which apply to national system employees.


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The National Employment Standards

In Australia, 11 minimum employment entitlements must be provided to all employees covered by the National Employment Standards (NES). These 11 minimum employment entitlements will protect full-time and part-time employees if their job falls under the national workplace relations system (i.e., Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)). Most employees in Australia fall within this category.

It is important to note that casual employees are only entitled to some of the minimum employment entitlements due to the nature of casual work.

The 11 National Employment Standards are:

  1. Maximum weekly hours
  2. Requests for flexible working arrangements
  3. Converting from casual to permanent
  4. Parental leave and related entitlements
  5. Annual leave
  6. Sick / carer’s leave and other leave
  7. Community service leave
  8. Long service leave
  9. Public holidays
  10. Notice of termination and redundancy pay
  11. Fair Work and Casual Employment Statements

1. Maximum weekly hours

The maximum weekly hours for NES employees is 38 hours for full-time employees. For an employee other than a full-time employee, it is the lessor of 38 hours or the employee’s ordinary hours of work in a week. It is possible under some awards or agreements for hours of work to be averaged over a specific period greater than a week.

2. Requests for flexible working arrangements

Flexible working arrangements may relate to work hours, work patterns, and work locations. Some employees who have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months can request flexible working arrangements. Generally, an employer who receives a request for a flexible working arrangement from an employee must respond within 21 days, outlining whether it is approved or declined. A request may only be refused on reasonable business grounds, and the reasons for any refusal must be outlined.

3. Converting from casual to permanent

Causal conversion provides a pathway for casual employees to become permanent employees within a business or organisation. To access casual conversion, a person must have worked for their employer for 12 months. An employer may be required to offer casual conversion, provided specific eligibility criteria are met. Different rules apply to small business employers.

Parental leave entitlements include maternity, paternity, and partner leave, as well as adoption leave. The entitlement can give employees the right to return to their old position after taking up to 12 months of unpaid parental leave. There is also an ability to request an additional 12 months’ leave from an employer. The eligibility criteria and rules differ slightly for casual employees.

5. Annual leave

Full-time and part-time employees get four weeks of annual leave, based on their ordinary work hours. Casual employees do not get paid annual leave. While NES employees are afforded a minimum period of annual leave, industrial awards and enterprise agreements may provide additional annual leave entitlements.

6. Sick / carer’s leave and other leave

Personal or sick leave, or carer’s leave, allows employees to have leave from the workplace due to illness, care needs of immediate family or a household member, or family emergencies. Full-time employees are entitled to 10 days of paid sick and carer’s leave annually, with part-time employees having their entitlement calculated on a pro-rata basis. It may also be possible for full-time and part-time employees to have two days of unpaid carer’s leave each time an immediate family member or household member is ill, injured, or there is an emergency.

7. Community service leave

All employees may take community service leave to engage in jury duty or a voluntary emergency management activity. While jury duty involves certain payments, other community service leave is undertaken voluntarily. There is no limit on the amount of community service leave an employee can take. Still, the entitlement exists only while the employee is undertaking the activity (including reasonable travel and rest time).

8. Long service leave

An employee who has worked for the same employer over a lengthy period may be eligible for long service leave. In some circumstances, employees may have the benefit of ‘portable long service leave’, which allows the entitlement to accumulate even if the employee works for different employers. Long service leave entitlements differ across states and territories within Australia.

9. Public holidays

NES employees are entitled to be absent from work on public holidays and may reasonably refuse to work on a public holiday. Different states and territories have different rules concerning public holidays. Generally, employees who work on public holidays receive overtime payments, penalty rates or additional benefits or compensation for working on a public holiday.

10. Notice of termination and redundancy pay

Except in cases of serious misconduct, employers are generally required to give notice to employees whose employment is being terminated. In cases of redundancy, there are minimum guarantees concerning the notice and payments that need to be made. However, the laws relating to redundancy payments differ for small businesses and casual employees.

11. Fair Work (FWIS) & Casual Employment (CEIS) Statements

The Fair Work Information Statement (FWIS) provides new employees information about the basic conditions they are entitled to. Employers must give casual employees the Casual Employment Information Statement (CEIS) before or as soon as possible after they commence their role. The CEIS provides information about the causal conversion rights, among other details.

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