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A Plain-English Introduction to Australia’s Fair Work Laws

Posted by: on 11 March 2015 in Compliance, Human Capital Management

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of hosting the first in a series of ten webinars explaining Australia’s Fair Work laws. This initial webinar was the ‘scene-setter’, and provided a comprehensive overview of the current Fair Work system.

In case you missed it, here’s a summary of the key points we covered:

  1. National Employment Standards (NES)

The NES form the foundation of the Fair Work system, and consist of ten minimum terms and conditions of employment that employers need to provide to all eligible employees.

The ten NES cover:

  • The maximum 38 hour working week
  • Annual Leave
  • Personal/Carer’s Leave and Compassionate Leave
  • Community Service Leave
  • Long Service Leave
  • Flexible Working Requests (not to be confused with Individual Flexibility Arrangements or ‘IFAs’ for short!)
  • Fair Work Information Statements
  • Unpaid Parental Leave
  • Notice of Termination and Redundancy Pay, and
  • Public Holidays

We’ll be looking at these ten NES in much greater detail in the next two webinars in the series.

  1. Modern Awards

There are currently 122 Modern Awards which impose additional terms and conditions of employment in a wide range of industries and occupations.

The majority of employees are covered by a Modern Award, and employers are held legally responsible for ensuring employees know about their Award. Employers must also correctly assign each employee to one of the Awards’ various classification levels.

Modern Awards build ‘on top’ of the NES, so it’s very important employers are familiar with their obligations.

  1. Enterprise Agreements (EAs)

EAs are collective agreements that are negotiated between employers and their employees. The negotiation process is clearly laid out in the Fair Work Act 2009. Once an Agreement is approved by a majority of those employees who cast a ballot, it must then be lodged for approval with the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

An EA can only take legal effect if it receives this approval. Once in place, the EA effectively replaces any Modern Awards that would otherwise have applied to employees in that business.

  1. Record Keeping

Lastly, towards the end of the webinar, we took a look at each employers’ obligation to:

  1. a) Maintain accurate time and wages records, and 
    b) Issue compliant payslips to all employees

Strict rules require particular information to be included in every employee’s time and wages record and payslip, and on the spot penalties of up to $510 per breach can be imposed!

Kindest regards,

David Bates


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TAGS: Enterprise Agreements Modern Awards National Employment Standards NES Record Keeping