On 1 January 2010, the most significant parts of the Fair Work Act came into operation — commonly known as “the Safety Net for Minimum Employment Standards” — being the National Employment Standards and Modern Awards. The Safety Net ensures that employees have protected leave entitlements (including termination benefits) and receive a guaranteed minimum wage.
National Employment Standards
The National Employment Standards (“NES”) are not significantly different from the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standards (“AFPCS”) — which set minimum wage and leave entitlements — introduced in March 2006, as part of the Workchoices reforms to the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (“WRA”). The WRA has been totally replaced by the Fair Work Act 2009, as and from 1 July 2009 (with some exceptions).
The biggest change to the leave entitlements is the right to an additional 52 weeks of maternity leave in certain circumstances, the introduction of flexible working arrangements for qualifying employees, and community service leave for specific activities.
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