National Employment Standards

Many of your rights at work are based on the National Employment Standards (NES). Together with the national minimum wage, they are a minimum safety net for employees..

The National Employment Standards has 10 legislated employment conditions including:


1. Maximum weekly hours of work – 38 hours per week, plus reasonable additional hours.

2. Annual leave – 4 weeks paid leave per year, plus an extra week for some shift workers.

3. Personal / carer’s leave and compassionate leave – 10 days paid personal (sick) / carer’s leave, 2 days unpaid carer’s leave and 2 days compassionate leave (unpaid for casuals) as needed.

4. Community service leave – up to 10 days paid leave for jury service (after 10 days is unpaid) and unpaid leave for voluntary emergency work.

5. Public holidays – paid days off on public holidays unless it’s reasonable to ask the employee to work.

6. Parental leave and related entitlements – up to 12 months unpaid leave, the right to ask for an extra 12 months unpaid leave and other types of maternity, paternity and adoption leave.

7. Notice of termination and redundancy pay – up to 4 weeks’ notice of termination (plus an extra week if the employee is over 45 and has been in the job for at least 2 years) and up to 16 weeks redundancy pay.

8. Requests for flexible working arrangements – parents and carers can ask for a change in working arrangements to care for young children under school age or children under 18 with a disability.

9. Long service leave

10. Fair Work Information Statement – employers have to give the Fair Work Information Statement to all new employees.


You only get some of the National Employment Standards if you’re a casual. These are:

  • 2 days unpaid carer’s leave and 2 days unpaid compassionate leave per occasion
  • maximum weekly hours
  • community service leave (except paid jury service)
  • days off on public holidays unless it’s reasonable to ask you to work
  • the Fair Work Information Statement


If you’ve been employed regularly and systematically for at least 12 months and there’s an expectation of ongoing work you’re also entitled to:

  • ask for flexible working arrangements
  • parental leave


There is a lot more detail about the NES at the Fair Work Ombudsman website

Relevant Resources

Equality, Pay, Rights at work
The gender pay gap
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Occupational health and safety
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