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Ten national employment standards

The Federal Government has released the 10 National Employment Standards which will commence on 1 January 2010.  The National Standards are intended to create a national system so that all employees and employers can understand and comply with their rights and obligations.

The National Standards are a minimum standard and cannot be excluded in an employment contract.  However an employer may offer an employee entitlements that are more generous than those contained in the National Standards.

So what are they?

Standard One – Maximum Weekly Hours

A 38 hour working week will remain the standard maximum for full time employees; however the Government recognises that employees may be required to work in excess of the standard 38 hour week.  Under this standard an employee may be required to work “reasonable additional hours” in excess of 38 hours, but may refuse to work additional hours if those hours are “unreasonable’.

Standard Two – Flexible Working Arrangements

An employee who is a parent, or has responsibility for the care of a child under school age, may request an employer change working arrangements to assist the employee to care for the child.

The employee must request the change in writing setting out the reasons for the change.  The employer must respond to the employee in writing and may only refuse the request on “reasonable business grounds.”

Standard Three – Parental Leave

An employee who has completed at least 12 months continuous services with an employer immediately before the child’s birth or adopted child’s placement, will be entitled to 12 months unpaid parental leave.  Under this standard, each parent has a separate entitlement.  This means that a mother could take 12 months leave at the time of the child’s birth and return to work, at which time the father could take 12 months leave.

Standard Four – Annual Leave

For each year of service an employee (other than casual employee) will be entitled to 4 weeks’ paid annual leave and a “shift worker” employee will be entitled to an additional week of leave.

Standard Five – Personal/Carers Leave and Compassionate Leave

An employee (other than causal employee) will be entitled to 10 days’ paid personal/carers leave for each year of service; 2 days’ paid compassionate leave “per occasion” (for example on the death or serious illness of a family member); and 2 days’ unpaid carers leave “per occasion” for genuine caring purposes or family emergencies (if paid carers leave is exhausted).

Standard Six – Community Service Leave and Make up Pay for Jury Service

An employee will be entitled to be absent from work to engage in community service activities.  The time of the absence will include the actual activity, travelling time associated with the activity and reasonable rest time immediately following the activity.  The absence will be unpaid.

An employee (other than a casual employee) taking leave for jury service will be entitled to “make-up pay” at the employee’s base rate of pay for the ordinary hours of work in the period.

Standard Seven – Long Service Leave

This standard has not yet been developed but it is intended that long service leave entitlements will be standardised across each state and territory.

Standard Eight – Public Holidays

An employer will be entitled to request that an employee work on a public holiday but an employee may refuse to work if the employer’s request is not reasonable or if the employee’s refusal to work is reasonable.

Standard Nine – Notice of Termination and Redundancy Pay

Employers will now be required by law to give notice of termination in writing.  Employers can continue to give either actual notice of termination or make a payment in lieu of notice.

Standard Ten – Fair Work Information Statement

This will be a government publication designed for employers to give to new employees at the beginning of their employment.  The statement will inform both employers and employees of their rights and obligations under the National Standards.

Prepared by: Townsend Lawyers

This article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. We do not warrant the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information or material in this article. All information is subject to change without notice. We and each party providing material displayed in this article disclaim liability to all persons or organisations in relation to any action(s) taken on the basis of currency or accuracy of the information or material, or any loss or damage suffered in connection with that information or material. You should make your own enquiries before entering into any transaction on the basis of the information or material in this article. Please ensure you contact us to discuss your particular circumstances and how the information provided applies to your situation.


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