Introduction to the National Employment Standards

Changes to casual employment – industrial relations reforms

On 26 March 2021, sections of the Fair Work Act relating to casual employees were amended.

We’ll have detailed information and guidance about the changes available for you soon. We’ll also be reviewing the information in this fact sheet.

For more information, see Changes to casual employment – industrial relations reforms.

Download the fact sheet:

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.

These are:

  • maximum weekly hours
  • 2 days unpaid carer’s leave and two days unpaid compassionate leave per occasion
  • 5 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 in excess of $13,000 (for an individual) or $66,000 (for a company). Penalty amounts are subject to change. You can check the current maximum penalties at

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Contact us

Fair Work Online:

Fair Work Infoline: 13 13 94

Need language help?

Contact the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 13 14 50

Hearing & speech assistance

Call through the National Relay Service (NRS):

  • For TTY: 13 36 77. Ask for the Fair Work Infoline 13 13 94
  • Speak & Listen: 1300 555 727. Ask for the Fair Work Infoline 13 13 94

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