Does your business employ people? If yes, the Australian Fair Work Act applies to your business. It sets out ten National Employment Standards (NES).  As a business owner or manager, you need to know those Standards and what you need to do to meet them.

The Fair Work Act started in 2009. It’s there to set out yours and your employee’s rights and responsibilities while at work. It includes things like:

  • the 10 National Employment Standards
  • unfair dismissal
  • adverse action
  • redundancy.

The penalties for not meeting those obligations can be large. The fines can be up to:

  • $10,800 for an individual
  • $54,000 for a corporation.

Fair Work Australia can also add more penalties on top of that.

The NES set out 10 minimum workplace entitlements for full-time and part-time employees. Be aware that some of these entitlements do not apply to casual employees.

What are the ten NES entitlements?

Maximum weekly hours of work

38 hours per week, plus reasonable additional hours.

Request for flexible working arrangements

Parents and carers can request a change in working arrangements. This is to assist with their child’s care. The entitlement applies to parents or carers with:

  • a child under school age
  • child under 18 with a disability.

Parental leave and related entitlements

Entitlement to…

  • up to 12 months’ unpaid leave for every employee
  • and 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
  • two days compassionate leave (unpaid for casuals) as required

Community service leave

  • Unpaid leave for voluntary emergency activities
  • leave for jury service, with an entitlement to be paid for up to 10 days for jury service.

Long service leave

This is atransitional entitlement. It applies to employees who had certain long service leave entitlements before 1 January 2010. This entitlement is pending the development of a uniform national long service leave standard.

Public holiday

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

Notice of termination and redundancy pay

This entitlement varies depending on length of service and age.

  • Notice of termination period
    • Up to 4 weeks’ notice
    • Up to 5 weeks if the employee is over 45 and has at least 2 years of continuous service)
  • Up to 16 weeks redundancy pay.

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
  • the respective roles of Fair Work Australia and the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Need help understanding your employees’ entitlements under the  National Employment Standards? Call us at HR Gurus – we can help!

Written by resident HR Guru, Alysha Munro

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