National Employment Standards

The FW Act creates the National Employment Standards (NES), which took effect on 1 January 2010. The NES are statutory terms and conditions of employment that apply to all employees in the national system (defined in s 13 FW Act), including management employees. The NES cannot be displaced by awards, enterprise agreements or common law contracts of employment, unless that is specifically provided for in the FW Act. Sections 61 to 125 of the FW Act detail the NES.

In summary, the NES are:

1 a maximum of 38 hours per week, subject to additional hours if reasonable and the averaging of hours over a period of time (ss 62–64);

2 the right to request flexible working arrangements for an employee in circumstances specified by the FW Act, including where the employee has a disability, is a carer within the meaning of the Carer Recognition Act 2010 (Cth), is aged 55 years or older, is experiencing family violence, is supporting someone experiencing family violence, or has caring responsibilities for a child. The employer must respond in writing and can only refuse on reasonable business grounds (s 65);

3 parental leave and related entitlements of, among other things, up to 12 months of unpaid parental leave to care for a child (ss 67–85);

4 annual leave of four weeks accrued for each year of full-time service or five weeks for shift workers, as defined (ss 86–94);

5 personal/carer’s leave of 10 days paid per year with the possibility of further unpaid days in defined circumstances. Compassionate leave of two days per year in defined circumstances (ss 95–107);

6 community service leave for an employee to undertake a defined type of community service, such as volunteering for a fire fighting body, in defined circumstances (ss 108–112);

7 long service leave for employees who have worked for the same employer (or in some cases, in the same industry) for a long time (s 113);

8 the entitlement to be absent from work on the public holidays specified in the FW Act, unless the employer makes a reasonable request for an employee to work and the employee does not have a reasonable basis for refusing (ss 114–116);

9 notice of termination or pay in lieu according to the table below;

10 redundancy pay if the employee’s employment is terminated:

a at the employer’s initiative because the employer no longer wants the job of the employee done by anyone, except where this is due to the ordinary and customary turnover of labour, or

b because of the insolvency or bankruptcy of the employer,

c redundancy pay periods are calculated as shown in the table below (ss 117–123);

11 a Fair Work Information Statement to be provided by an employer to each of their employees (ss 124–125); and

12 family and domestic violence leave of five days unpaid each year (ss 106A–106E).

Notice of termination or pay in lieu

Employee’s period of continuous service with the employer at the end of the day the notice is given


Not more than 1 year

1 week

More than 1 year but not more than 3 years

2 weeks

More than 3 years but not more than 5 years

3 weeks

More than 5 years

4 weeks

Note: The period of notice is increased by one week if the employee is over 45 years old and has completed at least two years of continuous service with the employer.

Redundancy pay

Employee’s period of continuous service with the employer on termination

Redundancy pay period

At least 1 year but less than 2 years

4 weeks

At least 2 years but less than 3 years

6 weeks

At least 3 years but less than 4 years

7 weeks

At least 4 years but less than 5 years

8 weeks

At least 5 years but less than 6 years

10 weeks

At least 6 years but less than 7 years

11 weeks

At least 7 years but less than 8 years

13 weeks

At least 8 years but less than 9 years

14 weeks

At least 9 years but less than 10 years

16 weeks

At least 10 years

12 weeks