Introduction to the National Employment Standards
Please note, we are currently updating the PDF version of this Fact Sheet with updated penalty amounts for breaches or contraventions of the Fair Work Act. An updated version will be available soon. In the meantime, see our Enforcing the legislation section for information about penalty amounts.
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What are the National Employment Standards?
The National Employment Standards (NES) are the 10 minimum standards of employment which cover the following:
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Who do the NES apply to?
The NES apply to all employees covered by the national workplace relations system, however only certain entitlements apply to casual employees.
- maximum weekly hours
- two days unpaid carer’s leave and two days unpaid compassionate leave per occasion
- five days unpaid family and domestic violence leave (in a 12-month period)
- community service leave (except paid jury service)
- public holidays
- provision of the Fair Work Information Statement.
In addition, casual employees who have been employed for at least 12 months by an employer on a regular and systematic basis and with an expectation of ongoing employment are entitled to:
- make requests for flexible working arrangements
- parental leave and related entitlements.
There are also two NES that apply to all full‑time and part‑time employees, whether they are covered by the national workplace relations system or not. These are:
- parental leave and related entitlements
- notice of termination.
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How do the NES apply?
Terms in awards, registered agreements and employment contracts cannot exclude or provide for an entitlement less than the NES, and those that do have no effect. However, they can affect the operation of the NES in certain ways.
For example, they may specify terms that deal with:
- averaging an employee’s ordinary hours of work
- the cashing out and taking of paid annual leave
- the cashing out of paid personal/carer’s leave
- extra personal/carer’s leave or annual leave in exchange for foregoing an equivalent amount of pay
- the substitution of public holidays
- situations in which redundancy entitlements do not apply.
They may also supplement the NES by providing entitlements that are more favourable for employees.
A contravention of the NES may result in penalties of up to $13,320 for an individual and $66,600 for a corporation.
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Fair Work Online: www.fairwork.gov.au
Fair Work Infoline: 13 13 94
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