An Overview - National Employment Standards (NES)

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Home > Blog > An Overview - National Employment Standards (NES)

Overview – National Employment Standards (NES)

It’s crucial for employees in Cairns to know what their rights are at work, as well as the legislation that’s there to protect them. Everyone has the legal right to work in a safe environment, free of discrimination and sexual harassment. For Cairns employees in the national workplace relations system, the Fair Work Act 2009 provides employees with a safety net of minimum conditions of employment through National Employment Standards (NES) and the national minimum wage.  

There are 10 minimum workplace entitlements covered by the NES:

  1. A maximum standard working week of 38 hours for full-time employees, plus ‘reasonable’ additional hours.
  2. A right to request flexible working arrangements.
  3. Parental and adoption leave of 12 months (unpaid), with a right to request an additional 12 months.
  4. Four weeks paid annual leave each year, pro-rata based on your ordinary hours of work.
  5. Ten days paid personal/carer’s leave each year (pro-rata), two days paid compassionate leave for each permissible occasion, and two days unpaid carer’s leave for each permissible occasion. 
  6. Community service leave for jury service or activities dealing with certain emergencies or natural disasters. This leave is unpaid except for jury service.
  7. Long service leave.
  8. Public holidays and the entitlement to be paid for ordinary hours on those days.
  9. Notice of termination and redundancy pay.
  10. The right for new employees to receive the Fair Work Information Statement.

Some limitations may apply to your entitlement to the NES. For example, there are some exclusions for casual employees.

The national minimum wage is an employees base rate of pay, based on the amount of ordinary hours worked. The Fair Work Commission reviews the minimum wage annually.

In addition to the NES and national minimum wage you may be covered by a modern award. Awards are industry or occupation specific and may provide for additional minimum employment standards.

Employees within the state industrial relations system are covered by the Queensland Employment Standards. That is, if you work for a Queensland Local or State Government in Cairns, or a Queensland Statutory agency (such as QLD Health, QLD Police Service or Electoral Commission QLD). 

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