The Labor Government’s new National Employment Standards (NES) announced today are an important step towards plugging the gaps in workers’ rights and entitlements that have been left by Work Choices say unions.

The new standards will ensure that all Australian workers have a guaranteed set of minimum employment conditions that are non-negotiable.

In conjunction with modern, flexible awards, these standards will help prevent workers suffering the widespread loss of entitlements to public holidays, overtime pay, penalty rates, leave loading and other conditions that occurred under the former Liberal Government’s WorkChoices IR laws.

Jeff Lawrence, ACTU Secretary said:

“These ten new National Employment Standards provide the bare minimum that every Australian worker should expect.

“The Work Choices IR laws were riddled with inconsistencies and gaps which left many workers, particularly young, vulnerable workers, worse off.

“It is good to see that the Rudd Labor Government has moved to fill these gaps and provide an absolute safety net that no one can fall through.

“The standards will also put into place an important right for working parents to request flexible and part-time work from their employer — a right which Work Choices took away.

“However the ACTU believes the Government could have gone further by putting an onus on employers to give fair consideration to the requests of employees and for workers to be able to appeal unreasonable refusals.

“In the future, unions will be looking for improvements to these minimum standards. We will particularly be looking for a new basic entitlement of paid maternity leave for women workers.

“These National Employment Standards are another step towards fixing the damage caused by Work Choices. 

“But it is important to remember that much of Work Choices is still in operation while the Rudd Government’s main set of new IR laws has yet to be introduced into Parliament,” said Mr Lawrence.

The NES are: 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.

A copy of the National Employment Standards (NES) is attached below.