A central feature of new system is the 10 National Employment Standards set out in the Fair Work Act as minimum conditions for all employees, as follows:
- Ordinary Hours are set at a maximum of 38 per week for full time employees, plus ‘reasonable additional hours’.
- Employees have the right to request flexible working in certain circumstances, including if the employee has the responsibility of care for a school age child. This right can be exercised by certain categories of employees, including permanent employees with at least 12 months continuous service and long term casuals who have a reasonable expectation of continuing employment on a regular and systematic basis.
- Most employees are eligible to apply for up to 24 months of unpaid leave in relation to the birth or adoption of a child (for employees who have had a minimum period of 12 months service).
- Most employees are entitled to a minimum of 4 weeks annual leave per year. Shift workers are entitled to 5 weeks per year.
- Most employees are entitled to personal/carer’s leave, which includes sick leave and compassionate leave. The entitlement is 10 days paid leave per year, untaken leave is carried forward but not paid out on termination.
- Most employees are eligible for up to 10 community service leave days per year. This leave is unpaid except for jury service.
- Uniform Long Service Leave entitlements are to be agreed by all State and Territory governments – this has not happened yet and in the meantime existing State laws continue to apply.
- Certain public holidays are guaranteed – there is an entitlement for the employee to be absent on public holidays and to be paid for ordinary hours on those days.
- Termination and redundancy pay and notice entitlements apply to most employees – up to five weeks’ notice and up to sixteen additional weeks’ redundancy pay, based on age and length of continuous service.
- A Fair Work Information Statement to be provided to all new employees.
Employers who breach the Standards face personal penalties of up to $12,600 for an individual and up to $63,000 for a corporation, in addition to paying compensation for the breach to the employee.