Industry News

Breaking down the National Employment Standards (NES)

August 17, 2022
0 min read
Industry News

Breaking down the National Employment Standards (NES) 

What are the National Employment Standards? 

The NES provides 11 minimum employment standards in Australia. It is contained within the Fair Work Act 2009 and provides a safety net for all employees in the national workplace relations system. The NES acts as a foundation for employees and employers cannot provide employment conditions that are less than the NES. 

Modern Awards, Enterprise Agreements, employment contracts and other registered agreements must include, at a minimum, all the conditions specified in the NES. 

The 11 National Employment Standards 

  1. Maximum weekly hours
    The employer must not request or require an employee to work more than 38 hours of work in a week, unless the additional hours are reasonable. 
  1. Request for flexible working arrangements
    Some employees who have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months can request flexible working arrangements, such as changes to hours, patterns or locations of work.
  1. Offers/requests to convert from casual to permanent employment
    Casual employees who have worked for their employer for 12 months need to be offered the option to convert to full-time or part-time (permanent) employment by their employer. Certain eligibility requirements need to be met for this to occur.
  1. Parental leave and related entitlements
    All employees are entitled to 12 months unpaid parental leave. Annual leave (also known as holiday pay) allows all employees (except casuals) to be paid while having a certain period of time off from work. Full-time and part-time employees get 4 weeks of annual leave, based on their ordinary hours of work.
  1. Personal/carer’s leave, compassionate leave and unpaid family and domestic violence leave
    Personal leave includes sick leave and carer’s leave that accumulates each year. 
  • Full-time employees are entitled to 10 paid days per year;
  • Part-time employees entitled to pro rata 10 days each year; and 
  • Casual employees are entitled to unpaid carer’s leave.

All employees are entitled to compassionate leave.

  • Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to 2 paid days per occasion; and
  • Casual employees are entitled to 2 unpaid days per occasion.

All employees (including casuals) are also entitled to 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave per year.

  1. Community service leave
    Employees, including casual employees, can take community service leave for activities such as voluntary emergency management activities or jury duty. There is no limit on the amount of community service leave an employee can take. Except for jury duty, community service leave is unpaid.
  1. Long service leave
    Employees are entitled to long service leave after a long period of working for the same employer. In most cases, long service leave laws in each state or territory sets out the eligibility for long service leave and how much long service the employee is entitled to. 
  1. Public holidays
    The NES prescribes what days in the year are to be considered a public holiday (in addition to any public holidays prescribed by individual state or territory laws). 
  1. Notice of termination and redundancy pay
    The NES provides the minimum notice period, or payment in lieu of notice that an employer must give an employee at the  end of their employment. 
    The NES also outlines the redundancy payment an employee may receive at the end of their employment.
  1. Fair Work Information Statement and Casual Employment Information Statement
    Employers have to give every new employee a copy of:
  • the Fair Work Information Statement (the FWIS); 
  • Casual Employment Information Statement (the CEIS) for casual employees only,before, or as soon as possible after they start their new job. 

Where does the NES fit in? 

All employees in the national workplace relations system are covered by the NES regardless of the award, registered agreement or employment contract that applies to them. 

The image below depicts the layers to the industrial relations system - each level can build on the layer below, but cannot offer any terms or conditions that are less favourable to employees. 

Casual Employees and the NES

In accordance with the NES, casual employee entitlements include: 

  1. Offers and requests to convert from casual to permanent employment 
  2. Unpaid carer’s leave 
  3. Unpaid compassionate leave 
  4. Unpaid family and domestic violence leave 
  5. Unpaid community service leave 
  6. The Fair Work Information Statement and the Casual Employment Information Statement.
  7. In some states and territories long serving casuals are eligible for long service leave.

Casual employees can also request flexible working arrangements and take unpaid parental leave if: 

  • They have been employed by their employer as a casual employee on a regular and systematic basis over at least 12 months; and
  • They reasonably expect to continue being employed by the employer on a regular and systematic basis.

For more information on the National Employment Standards go to 

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