In order to promote a safe, fair and compliant work environment, it’s important for both employers and employees to be clear on their rights, duties and obligations within the workspace. There are a number of areas that must be appropriately addressed, according to Australia’s National Employment Standard (NES), in order to offer guidance and protection to both parties.
The NES applies to any employee covered by the national workplace relations system and sets out a list of 10 minimum entitlements for employees. Employers have the option of supplementing these entitlements through awards or an employment contract but may not provide for conditions that are less than the stated minimum standards. Furthermore, employers are not permitted to exclude any of these minimum entitlements, thereby providing clear guidance to employers and a safety net that can’t be altered to the disadvantage of employees.
The minimum entitlements cover a range of employment areas, including leave entitlements, notice requirements and working hours and arrangements as follows:
- Maximum weekly hours of work – This is set at 38 hours per week, plus reasonable additional hours;
- An employee may make requests for reasonable flexible working arrangements;
- Parental leave and related entitlements – Employees may have up to 12 months of unpaid leave and the right to ask for an extra 12 months unpaid leave. Also includes adoption-related leave;
- Annual leave – Employees shall be entitled to four weeks paid leave per year, plus an extra week for some shift workers;
- Personal/carer’s leave, compassionate leave, and family and domestic violence leave entitlements consisting of 10 days paid personal/ carer’s leave, two days unpaid carer’s leave as required, two days compassionate leave as required and five days unpaid family and domestic violence leave (in a 12-month period);
- Community service leave which consists of 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;
- Long service leave – Paid leave for employees who have been with the same employer for a long time;
- Public holiday entitlements – A paid day off on a public holiday (unpaid for casuals), except where reasonably requested to work;
- Notice of termination and redundancy pay – Employers shall be required to provide up to five weeks’ notice of termination and up to 16 weeks redundancy pay, both based on length of service; and
- Employers shall provide a Provision of a Fair Work Information Statement which shall set out the conditions of employment to the employee.
These 10 entitlements are minimum standards that employers are required to extend to their employees to promote a safe, fair and healthy work environment. Failure to extend these entitlements is a breach of the National Employment Standard. Whether you are an employer or an employee, consult with an experienced employment law professional who can help with information and advice to ensure that these entitlements are duly extended and exercised.