The Fair Work system
On 1 January 2010, Fair Work, a new workplace relations system took full effect, replacing the old WorkChoices system.
What does this mean for me?
As an employee, you are covered by a set of conditions that cannot be stripped away.
The conditions, or 'safety net' as they're known, have two parts.
1. Ten National Employment Standards - these cover your employee entitlements
2. New modern awards - industry specific employee terms and conditions
The 10 National Employment Standards (NES)
1. Maximum weekly hours of work - 38 hours per week is the max for a full-timer, plus reasonable additional hours
2. Requests for flexible working arrangements - for example, if you've got kids you can ask for a change of hours
3. Parental leave and related entitlements - maternity, paternity and adoption related leave
4. Annual leave - 4 weeks paid leave per year (or the equivalent for part-timers), plus an additional week for certain shift workers
5. Personal / carer's leave and compassionate leave
6. Community service leave - unpaid leave for voluntary emergency activities and leave for jury service
7. Long service leave
8. Public holidays - a paid day off on a public holiday, except where reasonably requested to work
9. Notice of termination and redundancy pay - up to 4 weeks notice of termination and up to 16 weeks redundancy pay, both based on length of service.
10. Provision of a Fair Work Information Statement (new window) - this is an info statement that employers must provide to all new employees.
Only certain NES entitlements apply to casual employees. For more details, visit our Casual Employment page.
For more information on the 10 National Employment Standards, check out the Fair Work website (new window).
New modern awards
An award is a set of work conditions, including pay rates, which relate to a specific industry or job. You can find out whether you are covered by an award by calling the Fair Work info line on 13 13 94.
Fair Work's 'modern awards' are updated and streamlined versions of previous awards. They build on the National Employment Standards mentioned above and may include other conditions relevant to the industry or job.
If you're not covered by an award, you will still be protected by the 10 National Employment Standards and a minimum wage.
Where can I get information on my rights as an employee?
There are a number of useful websites containing information on your rights as an employee. Each of these sites provide help-lines, so that you can speak with an expert if you wish.
JobWatch Victoria (new window)
Statewide community legal centre specialising in issues for workers in Victoria, and offering free and confidential advice
Fair Work Ombudsman (new window)
Gives advice about Australia's national workplace relations system and helps people understand their workplace rights and responsibilities
Fair Work Australia (new window)
The national workplace relations tribunal
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) (new window)
A national organisation representing the Australian workforce