Are you compliant?

Australia’s current industrial relations system began operation on 1 July 2009 with the commencement of the Fair Work Act.

As an employer, it is imperative that you understand the impact of these obligations on your business as fines and other penalties may be imposed by Fair Work Australia if you do not follow the rules carefully.

National Employment Standards (NES)

The Fair Work Act provides a safety net of enforceable minimum employment terms and conditions through the National Employment Standards (NES).

The NES sets out 10 minimum workplace entitlements which apply to all employers and employees in the national workplace relations system from 1 January 2010 (however only certain entitlements apply to casual employees).

What are the NES entitlements?

Maximum weekly hours of work – 38 hours per week, plus reasonable additional hours.

 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.

 Parental leave and related entitlements – up to 12 months unpaid leave for every employee, plus a right to request an additional 12 months unpaid leave, and other forms of maternity, paternity and adoption related leave. 

 Annual leave – 4 weeks paid leave per year, plus an additional week for certain shift workers.

 Personal / carer’s leave and compassionate leave – 10 days paid personal / carer’s leave, two days unpaid carer’s leave as required, and two days compassionate leave (unpaid for casuals) as required.

 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.

 Long service leave – a transitional entitlement for employees who had certain LSL entitlements before 1/1/10 pending the development of a uniform national long service leave standard.

 Public holidays – a paid day off on a public holiday, except where reasonably requested to work.

 Notice of termination and redundancy pay – up to 4 weeks notice of termination (5 weeks if the employee is over 45 and has at least 2 years of continuous service) and up to 16 weeks redundancy pay, both based on length of service.

 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 Fair Work Australia and the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Do your contracts of employment comply with the new NES? If they don’t you could be subject to penalties.