How the NES work

What kinds of awards & agreements do the NES apply to?

The National Employment Standards apply to everyone in the national workplace relations system, no matter what award, agreement or employment contract covers them.

Employees covered by awards and agreements

The conditions in an award or agreement have to be the same or better than the National Employment Standards. If they’re not as good, they don’t apply and the NES apply instead.

Awards and agreements may have flexible terms for:

  • averaging ordinary hours of work
  • cashing out and taking paid annual leave
  • cashing out paid personal / carer’s leave
  • substituting public holidays
  • when redundancy pay doesn’t apply.

Important! Awards, agreements and employment contracts can’t provide entitlements less than the National Employment Standards. They also can’t exclude the NES.

Employees not covered by awards & agreements

For employees not covered by an award or agreement, their employment contract can only provide entitlements that are equal to or better than the National Employment Standards.

You can also make agreements that change (but not reduce) the way some of the NES entitlements apply to you. This can include agreements about:

  • averaging hours of work (up to a maximum of 26 weeks)
  • cashing out or taking annual leave
  • taking extra annual leave in exchange for an equivalent amount of pay
  • substituting public holidays.

Important! Awards, agreements and employment contracts can’t provide entitlements less than the National Employment Standards.

The NES are guaranteed minimum standards

An employee cannot get less than the National Employment Standards.

Employers who do not give their employees the minimum entitlements in the NES face penalties of up to $10,200 for an individual and $51,000 for a corporation.

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Page last updated: 17 Sep 2010