New National Employment Standards released

Posted by James Ferre on 17th June 2008

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard, yesterday released the new National Employment Standards (NES).The NES are a key element of the Rudd Government’s new workplace relations system and will come into effect on 1 January 2010, with the Government indicating that the new system should ensure that all employees are protected by a strong safety net of fair minimum conditions.

The NES will apply to all employees in the Federal system regardless of industry, occupation or income.

Changes to the current system were developed following consultation and consideration of submissions to the exposure draft which was released on 14 February 2008. 129 submissions were received from a wide range of stakeholders, including: employee and employer groups; businesses; community organisations and individuals.

The NES will be simpler for Australian employers, according to the Rudd Government, with 10 minimum conditions in 50 pages.

The new employment standards incorporate the following 10 issues:

1. Maximum weekly hours of work
2. Request for flexible working arrangements
3. Parental leave and related entitlements
4. Annual leave
5. Personal/Carer’s leave and compassionate leave
6. Community service leave
7. Long service leave
8. Public holidays
9. Notice of termination and redundancy pay
10. Fair Work Information Statement

The Government will shortly issue a revised Award Modernisation Request to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) attaching the NES to assist in its task of modernising awards.

Legislation will be introduced into Parliament later this year to give effect to the Government’s commitment, with the legislation to also include other aspects of workplace relations relating to the NES including: compliance, interaction with agreement making and future reviews.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Australia’s largest and most representative business organisation, says that proposed national employment standards will add some cost and challenge to business management. However, they do believe the announcement improves on earlier government proposals, and indicates a “serious endeavour to consider industry submissions”.
More information about the National Employment Standards can be found at http://www.workplace.gov.au.