National Employment Std.

20 May National Employment Std.

National Employment Standards

Members may be aware that the Government recently announced the terms of the new National Employment Standards (NES).  The NES are to apply to all employees nationally when the new industrial relations system commences operation on 1 January 2010.

These NES are intended to form part of the safety net of minimum conditions proposed by the Government and will operate in conjunction with awards that are to be created by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) through the award modernisation process which is due to be completed by the end of December 2009.

In reality, many of the NES already form part of the guaranteed standards introduced by the former Howard Government based on the Australian Fair Pay and Condition Standard.  However, there are a number of additional burdens that have been placed on business as a result of these changes.

The NES deal with:

  • Maximum weekly hours of work – A standard 38 hour working week for full-time employees, plus reasonable additional hours.  These will be decided by assessment of certain factors, including the needs of the business and the compensation payable to the employee.  Averaging of hours may be provided in modern awards.
  • Requests for flexible working arrangements –  Employees with caring responsibilities for a child under school age will have the right to request flexible working arrangements, which could include reduced or altered hours or work from home.  Only employees that have worked continuously in a job for 12 months are able to make such a request under the new NES.  Written employee requests can be refused only on ‘reasonable business grounds’.
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