So what is personal leave? Sounds like secret women’s business to me.
What is flexible working? Does that mean flexi-time?
What is NES? Do I need to know, should I care?
The answer to all these questions is yes!
Back on 1/1/2010 when Fair Work Act legislation came into play so did the National Employment Standards or NES. These are nationwide, minimum employee conditions for all permanent employees. So what does it cover and what does it mean for your business? Well, the first aspect you need to be aware of is that any new permanent employees that you hire, whether full time or part time, need to receive a copy of the NES Information Worksheet. If you don’t share this document it is considered a breach of the Act and there are potential fines. Here is a link to the document for your ease of search http://www.fairwork.gov.au/FWISdocs/Fair-Work-Information-Statement.pdf
1. A maximum standard working week of 38 hours for full-time employees, plus ‘reasonable’ additional hours
There is much debate about this one but essentially my view would be more than 30mins extra per day everyday could be deemed as unreasonable by FWA Ombudsman. That said, I think this would vary on the industry and the salary earned
2. A right to request flexible working arrangements to care for a child under school age, or a child (under 18) with a disability
The key word here is ‘request’ however; it is becoming increasingly difficult to say no, unless the decision will mean financial hardship for your business versus some inconvenience. A word of caution – employees are becoming more aware of these rights and there will be an increase in this type of request but let’s remember, in these economic times, it is the exception rather than the rule where employees take extended periods of unpaid leave
Flexible arrangements might mean reduced hours, a later start to allow for childcare drop offs, part time work, working from home or a nine day fortnight. It is also about compromise, with both parties making it work. There is also a formal process that needs to be followed to manage this request and response process
3. Parental and adoption leave of 12 months (unpaid), with a right to request an additional 12 months
This means potentially losing an employee for a period of two years – the upside is that if this is arranged up front it may be a more attractive option for a contractor, or you might look to bring someone into the role for career development on a temporary basis
4. Four weeks paid annual leave each year (pro rata)
No real change here but you may want to think about a forced shut-down – maybe at Christmas to maximise productivity down times. Check your Modern Award as there are timing and process issues to be considered
5. Ten days paid personal/carer’s leave each year (pro rata), two days paid compassionate leave for each permissible occasion and two days unpaid carer’s leave for each permissible occasion
Personal Leave covers sick leave for the employee but also leave to care for immediate family members as well. Employees can also take an additional two days on each permissible occasion
6. Community services leave for jury service or activities dealing with certain emergencies or natural disasters.
This leave is unpaid except for jury serviceIf you have employees that are members of the SES for example you need to have a contingency plan in place for when this employee might be on extended, unpaid leave
7. Long service leave As per your State Legislation entitlements
8. Public holidays and the entitlement to be paid for ordinary hours on those days
Some Awards will allow your employees to take a day in lieu for working a public holiday
9. Notice of termination and redundancy pay
Previous to FWA 2010, you were only entitled to redundancy, if it was a contractual clause. Now everyone is entitled but their length of service only starts from 1/1/2010
10. The right for new employees to receive the Fair Work Information Statement
This is the link attached above which should be sent out with the employment contract and letter of offer. http://www.fairwork.gov.au/FWISdocs/Fair-Work-Information-Statement.pdf
Employees are becoming more aware of these rights and I suggest that it is important to be aware of your obligations and to determine if and how you can accommodate these requests, or whether you have the option to decline the request. As with all legislation, there are some processes that need to be followed – e.g. the timeline for responding to a request for flexible working and the requirement for this to be in writing. Make sure you and your team are aware of these obligations.