How do the 10 National Employment Standards (NES) apply to you?

The National Employment Standards (NES) are apart of the Fair Work Act 2009 and contain 10 minimum standards for employment.

What are the 10 National Employment Standards?

  1. Maximum weekly hours of work – 38 hours per week (plus reasonable additional hours*).
  2. Requests for flexible working arrangements – employees in certain circumstances can request a change in their working arrangements.
  3. Parental leave – up to 12 months unpaid leave per employee, (plus a right to request an additional 12 months unpaid leave*).
  4. Annual leave – 4 weeks paid leave per year.
  5. Personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave – full-time employees are entitled to 10 days paid personal/carer’s leave, two days unpaid carer’s leave as required, and two days compassionate leave (unpaid for casuals) if required.
  6. Community service leave – entitled to unpaid leave for voluntary emergency activities and leave for jury service (plus an entitlement to be paid for up to 10 days for jury service*).
  7. Long service leave – a transitional entitlement for employees as outlined in an applicable pre modernised award.*
  8. Public holidays – a paid day off on a public holiday (except where reasonably* requested to work).
  9. Notice of termination and redundancy pay – up to 5 weeks notice of termination of employment and up to 16 weeks severance pay on being made redundant (determined on length of service within organisation*).
  10. Provision of a Fair Work Information Statement – All employers must provide and present a Fair Work Information Statement to all new employees and outlines employment rights, conditions, and entitlements.

*in correlation to the Fair Work Act 2009.

So what does this mean for Employees?

The NES covers all employees under the national workplace relations system, however there are certain entitlements that differ slightly depending on employment status (i.e. full-time, casual, part-time, etc.)more information here.

What does the NES mean for Employers?

For Employers, the terms in awards, agreements, and employment contracts cannot exclude or provide any entitlement less than the National Employment Standards. However, employers can and are entitled to specify terms that affect the awards and agreements in the NES in certain areas.

For example, employers may specify terms in relation to:

  • Employee working hours (averaging an employee’s ordinary hours of work)
  • Paid leave (cashing out and taking of paid annual leave)
  • Carer’s leave (cashing out of paid personal/carer’s leave)
  • Public Holidays (the substitution of public holidays)
  • Redundancy Pay (situations in which redundancy pay entitlements do not apply).

Employers may also supplement the NES by providing entitlements that are more favourable for employees. Employment contracts can only have effect on employees provided that the entitlements are similar, equal to, or more favourable than the NES towards their employees.

Any employer found to be in violation the NES can be found or reported, resulting heavy penalties. A breach of a provision of the NES can lead to penalties of up to $10,800 for an individual and $54,000 for a corporation.

For more information about the NES and how they apply to you or your employer visit the FairWork Website.


Jason runs Elias Recruitment, a boutique legal recruitment consultancy that specialises in finding lawyers for law firms, NFPs and corporate inhouse teams. Get in touch at [email protected]


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