National Employment Standards

What are the National Employment Standards?

The National Employment Standards (NES) are 10 universal employment entitlements that are found in Part 2-2 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act) that apply to national workplace relations system employees. Parts of the NES may also extend to employees beyond the national workplace relations system. They include entitlements such as annual leave, maternity leave, parental leave, sick leave, compassionate leave, and so on (Fair Work Ombudsman).

The 10 NES are minimum standards that cannot be overridden by the terms of enterprise agreements or awards.

The 10 NES entitlements relate to the following matters:

1. Maximum of 38 weekly hours of work

  • As well as reasonable additional hours.

2. Requests for flexible working arrangements

  • An entitlement for certain employees enabling them to request flexible working arrangements/ to change their working arrangements.

3. Parental leave and related entitlements – each employee is entitled to up to 12 months unpaid leave

  • And a right to request an additional 12 months unpaid leave
  • In addition to other forms of maternity, paternity and adoption-related leave.

4. Annual leave

  • 4 weeks paid leave per year (for FT workers)
  • Certain shift workers are entitled to an additional week.

5. Personal/carer's leave and compassionate leave

  • 10 days paid personal/carer's leave
  • 2 days unpaid carer's leave as required
  • 2 days compassionate leave (unpaid for casuals) as required.

6. Community service leave

  • Unpaid leave for voluntary emergency activities; and
  • Up to 10 days of paid leave for Jury Service (after 10 days is unpaid).

7. Long service leave

  • A transitional entitlement for employees as outlined in an applicable pre-modernised award, pending the development of a uniform national long service leave standard.

8. Public holidays

  • A paid day off on each public holiday, except where reasonably requested to work.

9. Notice of termination and redundancy pay

  • Up to 4 weeks’ notice of termination (plus an extra week for employees over 45 years of age who have been in the job for at least 2 years)
  • Up to 16 weeks’ severance pay on redundancy, both based on length of service.

10. The Fair Work Information Statement is available from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Must be provided by employers to all new employees, and contains information about the NES, Trade union rights of entry, employees right to freedom of association, modern awards, agreement-making, termination of employment, individual flexibility arrangements, transfer of business, and the respective roles of the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Am I covered by the NES?

Yes! All employees in the national workplace relations system are covered by the NES regardless of the award, registered agreement or employment contract that applies (however only certain entitlements apply to casual employees).

Casual employees only get certain NES entitlements which are:

  • Two days unpaid carer’s leave and two days unpaid compassionate leave per occasion;
  • Maximum weekly hours;
  • Community service leave (except paid jury service);
  • To reasonably seek a day off on a public holiday; and
  • The Fair Work Information Statement.

In some states and territories long serving casuals are eligible for long service leave.

In Victoria, providing that the employee has had continuous employment with one employer and there has been no longer than a three month absence between two periods of employment then LSL is accrued by the employee.

Independent contractors and business owners are usually not employees and would not be eligible for long service leave provided by the LSL Act.

In addition, where there is an expectation of ongoing work for a casual and the casual has been employed regularly and systematically for at least 12 months, they have extra entitlements from the NES. These are:

The right to request flexible working arrangements
Access to parental leave.