The Fair Work Act and National Employment Standards

It is important to know about your rights when it comes to working in Australia.

The Australian government has implemented the Fair Work Act to ensure that workers are treated fairly. The Fair Work Act includes the National Employment Standards and the National Minimum Wage.

National Employment Standards

The National Employment Standards cover all employees and ensure they are entitled to a minimum of 10 standards. Select each briefcase to see the standards:



Maximum weekly hours: usually 38 hours a week with reasonable additional hours.



Flexible working arrangements: Some employees who’ve worked for the same employer for at least 12 months have the right to ask for flexible working arrangements. For example, starting earlier so you can leave earlier to pick up your children from school.



Parental leave: this is leave you can take to give birth, when your spouse (or de facto partner) gives birth, or you’re adopting a child under 16 years of age.



 Annual leave: you’re entitled to four weeks paid leave per year as a full time or part time employee. Some shift workers get up to five weeks annual leave a year.



Personal/carer’s and compassionate leave and unpaid family and domestic violence leave: you’re entitled to 10 days paid personal/carer’s leave per year as a full time or part-time employee. Full time and part time employees are also entitled to 2 days of compassionate leave when a member of their immediate family dies or contracts a life-threatening illness or injury. All employees are entitled to 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave each year.



Community service leave: you are entitled to leave for voluntary emergency service activities (for example, volunteer firefighter) and jury duty.



Long service leave: how much long service leave and when you can get it is dependent on the state or territory laws of where you work, but usually you can take long service leave after working for the same employer for 10 years.



Public holidays: Full time and part time employees who normally work on the day a public holiday falls will be paid their base rate of pay for the ordinary hours they would have worked if they had not been away because of the public holiday. You don’t have to work on a public holiday, but your employer can request you to, if it is a reasonable expectation



Notice of termination and redundancy pay: Termination notice and redundancy pay is dependent upon your employment type and length of service. You may be entitled up to 5 weeks’ notice of termination and up to 16 weeks redundancy pay.



Fair Work Information Statement: Your employer needs to give you this statement with every new job you start and it contains basic information about your workplace rights and entitlements.

National Minimum Wage

In addition to these standards, The Fair Work Act also includes the National Minimum Wage. The minimum wage is reviewed yearly with any changes applying on the first full pay period on or after 1 July every year. You can check the current minimum wage at the Fair Work Ombudsman’s minimum wage webpage.


Awards are legal documents that outline the minimum pay and conditions of employment. There are more than 100 industry or occupation awards that cover most people who work in Australia. Awards can tell employees what they should expect for their employment including:

  • Minimum wages
  • Hours of work
  • Penalty rates (these are the rates of pay they may get for working on weekends)
  • Rest breaks
  • Annual and personal/carer’s leave

If an employee is covered by an award, they may be entitled to a higher rate of pay than the National Minimum Wage. Find out about your pay rate using the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Pay and Conditions Tool.

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Helpful links

Understanding Australian Workplace Cultures: Legislative and regulatory frameworks

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