National Employment Standards (NES)


What are the National Employment Standards (NES)?

The National Employment Standards are the minimum entitlements owed to employees under law in Australia.

This is the starting point for most employees regardless of whether they are covered by an award, enterprise agreement or other instrument. The minimum entitlements can’t be replaced or reduced by a contract or award, they can only be added to.

Together, the NES & national minimum wage provide the minimum entitlements and pay which all businesses in Australia must adhere to.

Who’s covered by the National Employment Standards?

These standards apply to all employees who are covered under the National Workplace Relations System.

There are only a few types of employees who aren’t covered by this framework, such as public sector workers and local government employees.

There are different levels of cover for casuals, and these can change depending on how long the person has been a casual for.

What are the 10 National Employment Standards?

1. Maximum weekly working hours – 38 hours per week, plus reasonable additional hours

2. Requests for flexible working arrangements – an entitlement allowing employees in certain circumstances to request a change in their working arrangements because of those circumstances

3. Parental leave and related entitlements – up to 12 months unpaid leave per employee, plus a right to request an additional 12 months unpaid leave, plus other forms of maternity, paternity and adoption related leave

4. Annual leave – four weeks paid leave per year, plus an additional week for certain shift workers

5. Personal carer’s leave and compassionate leave – 10 days paid personal/carer’s leave, two days unpaid carer’s leave as required, and two days compassionate leave (unpaid for casuals) as required

6. Community service leave – unpaid leave for voluntary emergency activities and leave for jury service, with 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, pending the development of a uniform national long service leave standard

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 five weeks notice of termination and up to 16 weeks severance pay on redundancy, both based on length of service

10. Fair work information statement – must be provided by employers to all new employees

What are the entitlements for casuals?

1. Unpaid carer’s leave 

2. Unpaid compassionate leave 

3. Unpaid family and domestic violence leave 

4. Community service leave 

5. Fair Work Information Statement – must be provided by employers to all new employees.

Long-serving casuals may be able to take long service leave in some states and territories.

You should also be aware that if you have employed a casual for 12 months or more and they have an expectation of regular and ongoing work, they may have the right to request flexible working arrangements and access to parental leave.  

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What is the Fair Work Information Statement?

The Fair Work Information Statement is a document that sets out employee rights in greater detail. It gives key pieces of information regarding employee entitlements such as the minimum wage, summary of applicable laws, table of leave and notice periods, and general information about protections at work.  

You must make a copy of the Fair Work Information Sheet available to your employees. We recommend providing it to them at the same time as onboarding, when you are processing paperwork for tax, super, payroll etc.  

You can access a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement here.  

Need some legal help? Book a Discovery Call

If you’re unsure of your obligations as an employer, you can book a discovery call to talk to us about your business here 

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Courtney Bowie


Courtney is Her Lawyer’s founder and principal lawyer. Before starting the firm in 2017, she worked as both a lawyer and consultant in top-tier law firms. Courtney is passionate about gender equality, mental health and wellbeing, especially in the legal profession.

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