If you’ve already hired staff for your small business, or you plan on doing it in the near future, there is something you need to know about. It’s called the minimum employment standards which includes the National Employment Standards (NES) and modern awards. Failure to comply with them will result in huge financial penalties for your business which is definitely something you want to avoid.

Not too familiar with them? No problem, we’ll give you a brief outline on what you need to know to stay compliant!

According to the Fair Work Act 2009, the 10 minimum standards are as follows:

  1. Maximum weekly hours of work – right now this is at 38 hours per week, plus additional hours that are considered ‘reasonable’.
  2. Requests for flexible working arrangements – this allows certain employees to request a change in their working arrangements because of their circumstances. For example allowing parents with children under the age of 18 with disabilities flexible working arrangements to assist with their child(ren).
  3. Parental leave and related entitlements – your employees are entitled up to 12 months unpaid leave, plus a right to request an additional 12 months unpaid leave. Along with that they are allowed other forms of maternity, paternity and adoption related leave.
  4. Annual leave – full time employees are granted up to four weeks paid leave per year. Depending on your business, some shift workers are able to get an additional week.
  5. Personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave – 10 days paid personal/carer’s leave, two days unpaid carer’s leave as required, and two days compassionate leave (unpaid for casuals) as required.
  6. Community service leave – If your employees want to take up the following activities you are required to provide unpaid leave: voluntary emergency activities and leave for jury service, with an entitlement to be paid for up to 10 days for jury service (but after 10 days you no longer have to pay).
  7. Long service leave – a transitional entitlement for your employees as outlined in an applicable pre-modernised award (we will discuss modern awards later), which will be changed once a uniform national long service leave standard is developed.
  8. Public holidays – yes, you will also be required to give your employees a paid day off on a public holiday, except where reasonably requested to work.
  9. Notice of termination and redundancy pay – you must give up to five weeks notice of termination and up to 16 weeks severance pay on redundancy, based on length of your employee’s service.
  10. Provision of a Fair Work Information Statement – this must be provided to all your new employees, and contains information about the NES, modern awards, agreement-making, the right to freedom of association, termination of employment, individual flexibility arrangements, union rights of entry, transfer of business, and the respective roles of the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Another important regulatory instrument you need to know about are modern awards. These are industry based awards that provide you with useful information that is relevant for your occupation. They include minimum wages, overtime wages, penalty rates for working on the weekend and more.

Knowing your rights and the rights of your employees is essential to ensure you don’t run into any legal issues.

You can find out more about the modern awards that cover your industry here.

If you want more tools and resources to ensure you’re on top of your workplace relations obligations, Fairwork Australia also has a page you can look at here.

The rules change slightly for small business, depending on how many staff members you have working in the business.

Now that you know what they’re about, it will be easier to comply with the information provided in the National Employment standards and the modern awards that cover your industry.

Now it’s pretty clear that hiring employees can be a big task. You also are going to want to make sure you have the financials to cover your employee costs. If you need budgeting or forecasting help, we would love to help you, you can call Kerry on 6023 1700drop us a note or connect with Kerry via LinkedIn.

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