National Employment Standards - overview

Analysis

National Employment Standards - overview

Some of the National Employment Standards recently confirmed by the federal government are modified versions of existing standards introduced into law by the WorkChoices legislation in 2006, while others are new altogether.

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Some of the National Employment Standards recently confirmed by the federal government are modified versions of existing standards introduced into law by the WorkChoices legislation in 2006, while others are new altogether.

The government released its 10 proposed National Employment Standards following the exposure draft that was released for public comment in February of this year. The Standards have not yet been introduced into Parliament, but it is expected that they will be brought into legislation later this year and will come into operation in early 2010. This means that the law has not yet changed.

Annual leave and Personal/Carer’s leave

For instance, minimum standards for the annual and personal/carer’s leave entitlements will be continued but without the complex accrual and crediting provisions that exist in the current legislation.

Cash-out leave

The ability for employers and employees to agree to cash out leave in a workplace agreement will be removed and instead the ability to cash out leave will be restricted to awards.

Hours

The maximum 38 hour week and requirement to work reasonable additional hours will remain. However, the ability to average the 38 hour week over a 12 month period will be restricted to awards.

Transfer to safe job

The Standards have retained the transfer to a safe job provisions for pregnant women but have extended the payment where an employer cannot provide the employee with safe work to include incentive-based payments and bonuses, loadings, allowances, penalty and overtime rates that the employee would have been entitled to had they been able to work during the period.

Parents — flexibility

Other major changes include the introduction of provisions to request flexible work arrangements for parents of children under school age and the ability to request an additional 12 months of unpaid parental leave. In both cases an employer may only refuse to grant the request on reasonable business grounds.

Severance pay

The Standards will provide a legislative entitlement to severance pay for employees who are made redundant.

Severance pay will be based on the employee’s length of continuous service and reflects the severance entitlements available in most pre-reform federal awards.

Community service leave

Employees required to attend jury service or voluntary emergency management activities will be entitled to be absent from work under the Community Service Leave Standard.

Not yet law

Again, please note that the Standards have not been enshrined into law at this date.

*Australian Business Lawyers specialises in employment law and related areas.   


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