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In our last two issues we looked at the first six of ten provisions of the National Employment Standards ie., Maximum weekly hours; request for flexible working arrangements; parental leave and related entitlements; annual leave; personal/carers leave and compassionate leave; and community service leave. This article will explain the remaining four provisions.

Long Service Leave

Because there is currently no national long service leave legislation, the NES requires that employers must continue to apply whatever legislation applied to the business prior to the commencement of the Fair Work System. If the business was previously covered by State award/s then the appropriate State legislation continues to apply, and if the business was previously already in the Federal award system the business continues to apply the Federal Long Service Leave legislation. (For the motor industry, the pre-existing federal long service leave legislation was the Federal Vehicle Industry – Repair Services and Retail (Long Service Leave) Award.)

Public Holidays

This provision entitles a permanent employee to be paid while absent from work on a public holiday and local show days – where applicable. There are various detailed requirements covering working on a public holiday and refusing to work on a public holiday. Payment is made only if the employee would normally have worked on the day.

Notice of Termination and Redundancy

Minimum notice periods, which depend on length of service, are set out in this provision. (Awards oblige employees to give the same notice as is required by the employer or to forfeit pay equivalent to the notice required.) The employer must provide a written notice of termination to the employee and is able to pay in lieu of having the employee work out the notice. In a redundancy situation, the same notice obligations apply as for any other poor performance based termination, but if the business employs 15 or more employees, then redundancy pay will be payable over and above the notice – again based on length of service. The NES contains a table showing the required payment. Businesses with fewer than 15 employees are not obliged to pay redundancy pay. In determining the number of employees in a business you are required to take into account employees of any related entity. An employer may be able to avoid payment of redundancy pay under circumstances where he is directly instrumental in securing alternative employment for the employee which is no less advantageous in pay and conditions than what the employee was previously employed on.

Fair Work Information Statement

All new employees must be given a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement which is published by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) as soon as possible after commencement. The Statement is available at the FWO web site.

NB: The above information is provided by way of general comment only and it is important to refer to the actual document for the full details of each provision.