National Employment Standards now up for debate

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National Employment Standards now up for debate

The Federal Government has released a discussion paper on the 10 National Employment Standards (NES). It intends these to be the key minimum entitlements for all Australian employees from 1 January 2010, when the new Fair Work Australia system begins.

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The Federal Government has released a discussion paper on the 10 National Employment Standards (NES). It intends these to be the key minimum entitlements for all Australian employees from 1 January 2010, when the new Fair Work Australia system begins.

The 10 standards are:

  • maximum weekly hours of work
  • requests by parents for flexible working arrangements
  • parental leave (and related entitlements)
  • annual leave
  • personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave
  • community service leave
  • long service leave
  • public holidays
  • notice of termination and redundancy
  • Fair Work Information Statement
The current five minimum standards under WorkChoices are:
  • Rates of pay
  • Hours of work
  • Annual leave
  • Personal leave
  • Parental leave.

Note that rates of pay are not included in the 10 NES. Under Labor’s system rates of pay are expected to be underpinned by the Fair Pay Commission minimum pay scales and whatever is contained in the modernised and simplified awards.

Employers have already expressed concern that the NES will lead to more red tape for employers and may affect flexibility because they are a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard said the NES will provide a ‘simple, fair and flexible safety net for all employees, without the administrative complexity and machinery rules that are a feature of the current Work Choices system’.

Straightforward, says Gillard

‘This expanded safety net of entitlements will not only benefit those employees who rely on it, but will be better for employers who will have a simple, straightforward set of minimum conditions that are easy to apply and comply with,’ Gillard said.

The Government is inviting employers, employees and the community to comment on the draft NES by 4 April 2008.

Gillard said the discussion paper outlines each of the 10 NES entitlements in detail, and highlights particular areas that stakeholders and interested parties might wish to comment on.

For example, the section on community service leave relates to leave for jury duty and emergency service duties, explains what is required to qualify for it and, in the case of jury service, what wages the worker is entitled to. Emergency service leave is unpaid.

‘The Government is particularly interested in hearing about the interaction of the NES with atypical working arrangements and the operation of the NES for those employees who are not covered by an award,’ she said.


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