National Employment Standards

I was speaking to a business owner yesterday and we were discussing the companies that have been falling foul of the law over the last few months.  Intriguingly, this business owner has 6 employees and they also had no idea about the NES  

So I thought it is a good time to remind folks about our Minimum Employment Requirements in Australia.

The NES is Australia’s National Employment Standards, of which there are 10.  The NES applies to all incorporated business (Pty Ltd) [subject to national employment law], employing people in Australia.  This covers full-time and part-time employee.


The NES includes:

  1. Maximum 38 hours work per week, plus reasonable additional hours;
  2. Employees may request flexible working arrangements (in can be made in certain circumstances
  3. 12 months unpaid Parental leave (including adoption leave) and an additional right to ask for an extra 12 months;
  4. Annual leave – four weeks paid leave per year, plus an extra week for some shift workers.
  5. 10 days of paid Personal leave (including sick and carer’s leave.  There are also entitlements to two days unpaid  carer’s leave and two days compassionate leave as required and compassionate leave);
  6. Unpaid Community service leave – unpaid leave for voluntary emergency activities and 10 days for jury leave service; 
  7. Long service leave requirements
  8. Paid Public holidays.  
  9. Proper notice of termination and redundancy pay – up to five weeks notice of termination and up to 16 weeks redundancy pay, both based on length of service;
  10. Provision of a Fair Work Information Statement – The NES statement must be provided by employers to all new employees.

Casual Employee NES entitlements include: 

  1. Paid Public Holiday where required to work.
  2. Maximum 38 hours per week
  3. Two days unpaid carer’s leave and two days unpaid compassionate leave per occasion
  4. Community service leave (except paid jury service)
  5. Provision of the Fair Work Information Statement.

In addition, regular casual employees who have been employed for at least 12 months by an employer are also entitled to:

  • make requests for flexible working arrangements
  • parental leave and related entitlements.

Can you opt out of the NES?

Basically, no.  These terms are either implicitly or explicitly implied into Awards, Registered Agreements and Employment Contracts.  However, in certain circumstances, the terms may be adapted but not reduced, depending on your Employment Instruments.

What happens if I don’t comply?

A contravention of the NES can result in penalties of up to $12,600 for an individual and $63,000 for a corporation, per contravention.

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This article is intended to provide commentary and general information. It should not be relied upon as comprehensive or legal advice. Formal legal advice may be necessary, in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this article. The HR Experts International is not responsible for the results of any actions taken or in-actions on the basis of information in this article, nor for any error or omission in this article.