Potential changes to NES

Potential changes to NES

In recent times, various parties seem to be lobbying the Federal Government to alter the existing minimum working entitlements captured under the National Employment Standards (NES).

The NES commenced on 1 January 2010 and was intended to create safety net entitlements for all employees in the federal system, regardless of whether they were covered by an award or an enterprise agreement. Currently, there are eleven minimum conditions covered under the NES, including:

  • Maximum weekly hours (38 per week);

  • Requests for flexible working arrangements;

  • Unpaid parental leave;

  • Annual leave (20 days paid per year);

  • Personal leave (10 days per year, and an additional 10 days for domestic violence purposes);

  • Community service leave;

  • Long service leave;

  • Public holidays;

  • Notice of Termination and redundancy pay;

  • Fair work information statements;

  • Casual conversion and casual employment information statement.

Workers under Queensland jurisdiction have similar arrangements through the Queensland Employment standards (QES).

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) recently proposed to the Senate work and care enquiry that ordinary full-time hours should be reduced from 38 hours to 32 hours to enable workers to achieve a better balance between work and caring responsibilities. The ANMF is also seeking to expand the current criteria for carer’s leave to include activities such as placing parents in residential aged care facilities or attending children’s school functions.

Similarly, the National Foundation for Australian Women believes it is an appropriate time to review the NES, focusing on issues such as introducing portable personal and annual leave schemes for temporary workers.

It is a common feature of many enterprise agreements, particularly in the construction industry, to have a standard 36-hour week, whilst public servants have enjoyed a standard 36.25-hour week for several decades.

Greens Senator for NSW, David Shoebridge, has called for the federal government to implement a four-day week in order to improve employee wellbeing amid what he describes as a “mental health and climate crisis”. Senator Shoebridge released a statement via Twitter, “During our current cost of living, mental health and climate crisis, introducing a four-day work week (with full pay) is more important than ever to support people’s wellbeing”.

National Employment Standards – Fair Work Ombudsman

Modern employment conditions | Office of Industrial Relations

For queries about the NES, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law at 1300 WAL LAW, 0417 622 178 or via email to dean.cameron@workforceadvisory.com.au

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

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