What are the National Employment Standards? – Part 1

What are the National Employment Standards – Part One

When the Fair Work system came into being in 2010, we saw the introduction of modern awards and the National Employment Standards (NES). The NES sets out ten minimum entitlements for employees and must be read in conjunction with any relevant award/s that apply in a business.

The ten minimum entitlements are;-

•    Maximum weekly hours

•    Requests for flexible working arrangements

•    Parental leave and related entitlements

•    Annual leave

•    Personal/carer’s leave

•    Community Service leave

•    Long Service leave

•    Public holidays

•    Notice of termination

•    Fair Work Information Statement

In Part One of our look at these provisions, we’ll look at the first two in greater detail.

Maximum Weekly Hours

The NES provides for a maximum of 38 ordinary hours to be worked per week and allows for reasonable additional hours – where those additional hours can be shown to meet a set of criteria of reasonableness set out in the NES. These include such things as the employee’s role and level of responsibility; the needs of the workplace; whether the employee is entitled to be paid for overtime; any risk to the employee’s health and safety from working the additional hours; the employee’s personal circumstances, including family responsibilities; any notice given by the employer for the need to work the additional hours; and the usual patterns of work in the industry in which the employee works.

Requests for flexible working arrangements

An employee may request a change in his/her working arrangements if;-

•    The employee is a parent having the responsibility for the care of a child of school age or younger

•    The employee is a carer

•    The employee has a disability

•    The employee is 55 years of age or older

•    The employee is experiencing violence from a member of the family

•    The employee provides care or support to a member of his/her immediate family or household because that member is experiencing violence from their family.

Any request for flexible working arrangements must be in writing – setting out the details of the change requested and the reasons for the change. The employer has 21 days to consider the request and must give a written response to the request. The employer may refuse the request only on reasonable business grounds and must state those grounds in the written response. “Reasonable business grounds” for refusal could include matters such as;

•    The requested arrangements are too costly

•    It’s impractical to change other employees’ working arrangements or hire new employees to accommodate the request

•    The request would result in a significant loss of productivity or have a significant negative impact on customer service.

Next time, we will look at Parental and Adoption leave; annual leave and personal/carer’s leave.