The National Employment Standards (NES), make up the national minimum entitlements for employees working in Australia. The National minimum wage determines the minimum hourly rate that award-free employees in Australia can be paid, although there are lower wage rates for apprentices and junior employees. Any modern award, employment agreement, enterprise agreement or any other registered agreement cannot provide for conditions that are less than the NES. 


Who does the NES cover?

The NES is applicable for all employees in Australia covered by the federal employment system. There are some entitlements that are not applicable for casual employees.


Why do we need the NES?

The NES ensure that all employees have a minimum set of standards that employers need to adhere to. If an employer provides an employee an employment contract that has conditions that are less than the NES these conditions are not valid.


What is the current national minimum wage?

As of the 1st of July 2021, the national minimum wage is $20.33 per hour or $772.60 per week. This rate has been provided by the Fair Work Commission and is reviewed each year. The Fair Work Commission also sets minimum wages for Apprentices, trainees, juniors, and employees with a disability. Employees covered by modern awards are subject to different minimum wages.


The National Employment Standards 

Maximum Weekly Hours
The maximum weekly hours in which an employer can ask an employee to work in a week is 38 hours unless the additional hours are reasonable. These hours include hours of paid and unpaid leave. An employee may refuse to work additional hours if they are unreasonable.


Request for flexible working arrangements
Once an employee has worked with an employer for a period of 12 months, certain employee including parents of school aged or younger children, recognized carer’s, employees with a disability, employees that are 55 or older and employees that are experiencing or provide care for someone experience family or domestic violence can make a request to their employer to have flexible workplace arrangements. Casual employees can also make such requests if they have a reasonable exception of ongoing regular and systematic work. Examples of flexible workplace arrangements include hours of work, patterns of work and locations of work.


Offers and request to convert from casual to permanent employee
Also known as casual conversion, causal employees that have worked for their employer for 12 months or more, need to be offered the opportunity to convert to full time or part time employment. There are criteria that needs to be met before this conversion can be offered.


Parental Leave and related entitlements
Parental leave entitlements are available to all Australian employees who have worked with their employer for at least 12 months before the period of leave is taken. Parental leave entitlements include maternity leave, paternity and partner leave, adoption leave, special maternity leave and a safe job and no safe job leave.


Annual Leave
Full time employees receive four weeks paid annual leave per year and part time employees get the pro rate equivalent based on their ordinary hours. Shift workers may get up to 5 weeks paid annual leave per year. Casual employees are not entitled to annual leave.


Personal/carer’s leave, compassionate leave and unpaid family and domestic violence leave
Personal and carer’s leave allows an employee to take time off when they are ill or injured or taking care of someone who is. Compassionate leave can be taken in the event of an employee’s member of their immediate family or household die or contract a life-threatening illness or injury, a baby in their immediate family or household born stillborn, the employee or their partner has a miscarriage. Employee are entitled to 2 days compassionate leave each time. All employees full time, part time and casual are entitled to 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave per year.


Community Service Leave
All employees are eligible to take community service leave for activities such as voluntary emergency or jury duty. Only jury duty is paid leave.


Long Service Leave – LSL
All employees are entitled to long service leave after a certain period of continuous employment with the same employer. Each state and territory determine how much long service leave an employee is entitled to and how long they must have been working with the employer for.


Public Holidays
Each Australian state and territory list the dates of the public holidays for the calendar year. The Fair Work Website list applicable penalty rate of public holidays.


Notice of Termination and redundancy pay
Employers and employees may need to give notice when the employment relationship is ending. This include when an employee is voluntary or involuntary leaving the employer. During the employee notice period the employee can either continuing working, receive their notice period paid out or a combination of both. In the case where an employee job no longer needs to be performance by anyone, redundancy, an employee may be entitled to a redundancy pay depending on their tenure with the employer.


Fair Work Information Statement and Causal Employment Information Statement
The Fair Work Information Statement needs to be provided to all employees on commencement with their new employer. Causal employees also need to be provided with the Casual Employment Information Statement. Both statements can be found on the Fair Work website.



The NES makes up the national minimum entitlements for most employees in Australia. The national minimum wage applies to award-free employees, award-covered employees have their minimum wages set by their modern award. Employers must ensure that they adhere to these for all their employees.

About Employment Innovations

Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.


The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.