Everyone working in Australia is entitled to basic rights and protections in the workplace. Know your entitlements before you land your first job!

All employees in the national workplace relations system are covered by the 10 minimum entitlements of the National Employment Standards:

  • Maximum weekly hours

Hours of work

Ordinary hours are an employee’s normal and regular hours of work, which do not attract overtime rates.

Awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements set out any:

  • maximum ordinary hours in a day, week, fortnight or month
  • minimum ordinary hours in a day
  • times of the day ordinary hours can be worked (eg. between 7am – 7pm).

The ordinary hours can be different for full-time, part-time and casual employees.

Maximum weekly hours

An employee can work a maximum of 38 ordinary hours in a week.

Spread of hours

The time of the day ordinary hours are worked is called the spread of hours (eg. between 7am – 7pm). Time worked outside the spread of ordinary hours can attract overtime rates.

Find more information about maximum and minimum hours of work and the spread of hours refer to your specific industry award (See Source Link Below)

  • Requests for flexible working arrangements

Certain employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements. Employers can only refuse these requests on reasonable business grounds.

What are flexible working arrangements?

Examples of flexible working arrangements include changes to:

  • hours of work (eg. changes to start and finish times)
  • patterns of work (eg. split shifts or job sharing)
  • locations of work (eg. working from home).

Who can request flexible working arrangements?

Employees who have worked with the same employer for at least 12 months can request flexible working arrangements if they:

  • are the parent, or have responsibility for the care, of a child who is school aged or younger
  • are a carer (under the Carer Recognition Act 2010)
  • have a disability (and are qualified for a disability support pension under the Social Security Act 1991)
  • are 55 or older
  • are experiencing family or domestic violence, or
  • provide care or support to a member of their household or immediate family who requires care and support because of family or domestic violence.

An employee can request flexible working arrangements to assist them with these circumstances.

  • Parental leave and related entitlements

Employees can get parental leave when a child is born or adopted. Parental leave entitlements include:

  • maternity leave
  • paternity and partner leave
  • adoption leave
  • special maternity leave
  • a safe job and no safe job leave
  • a right to return to old job.

What is parental leave?

Parental leave is leave that can be taken when:

  • an employee gives birth
  • an employee’s spouse or de facto partner gives birth
  • an employee adopts a child under 16 years of age.

Employees are entitled to 12 months of unpaid parental leave. They can also request an additional 12 months of leave.

Pre-adoption leave

Employees who are taking parental leave to care for an adopted child are also entitled to 2 days unpaid pre-adoption leave to attend relevant interviews or examinations.

This leave can’t be used if an employer tells an employee to take another type of leave (eg. paid annual leave).

Who is eligible for parental leave?

All employees in Australia are entitled to parental leave.

Employees are able to take parental leave if they:

  • have worked for their employer for at least 12 months:
    • before the date or expected date of birth if the employee is pregnant
    • before the date of the adoption, or
    • when the leave starts (if the leave is taken after another person cares for the child or takes parental leave)
  • have or will have responsibility for the care of a child.

Casual employees

For casual employees to be eligible for unpaid parental leave they need to have:

  • been working for their employer on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months
  • a reasonable expectation of continuing work with the employer on a regular and systematic basis, had it not been for the birth or adoption of a child.

Having another child

Employees who have taken parental leave don’t have to work for another 12 months before they can take another period of parental leave with that same employer.

However if they have started work with a new employer they will need to work with that employer for at least 12 months before they can take parental leave.

There are different arrangements for employees when a transfer of business occurs.

Source reference: Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) Sections 67-70, 76 and 85

  • Annual leave

Annual leave (also known as holiday pay) allows an employee to be paid while having time off from work.

The entitlement to annual leave comes from the National Employment Standards (NES).

Awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements can’t offer less than the NES but they can give more annual leave.

Who is entitled to annual leave?

All employees (except for casual employees) get paid annual leave.

How much annual leave does an employee get?

Full-time and part-time employees get 4 weeks of annual leave, based on their ordinary hours of work.


Shift workers may get up to 5 weeks of annual leave per year.

How does annual leave accumulate?

Annual leave accumulates from the first day of employment, even if an employee is in a probation period.

The leave accumulates gradually during the year and any unused annual leave will roll over from year to year.

Annual leave accumulates when an employee is on:

  • paid leave such as paid annual leave and paid sick and carer’s leave
  • community service leave including jury duty
  • long service leave.

Annual leave does not accumulate when the employee is on:

  • unpaid annual leave
  • unpaid sick/carer’s leave
  • unpaid parental leave.

The Australian Government’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme is not considered to be paid leave. An employee does not accumulate annual leave while being paid by the Paid Parental Leave Scheme.

Source reference: Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) Sections 87 

  • Personal carer’s leave and compassionate leave

    Sick and carer’s leave (also known as personal leave or personal / carer’s leave) lets an employee take time off to help them deal with personal illness, caring responsibilities and family emergencies.

    Sick leave can be used when an employee is ill or injured.

    An employee may have to take time off to care for an immediate family or household member who is sick or injured or help during a family emergency. This is known as carer’s leave but it comes out of the employee’s personal leave balance.

    The National Employment Standards includes both paid and unpaid leave entitlements. For more information go to:

    Immediate family members or household members

    An immediate family member is a:

    • spouse
    • de facto partner
    • child
    • parent
    • grandparent
    • grandchild
    • sibling, or
    • child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the employee’s spouse or de facto partner.

    A household member is any person who lives with the employee.

    Source reference: Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) Sections 12 and 97 


  • Community service leave

Employees, including casual employees, can take community service leave for certain activities such as:

  • voluntary emergency management activities
  • jury duty (including attendance for jury selection).

With the exception of jury duty, community service leave is unpaid. To find out more visit Jury duty.

Voluntary emergency management activity

An employee engages in a voluntary emergency management activity if:

  • the activity involves dealing with an emergency or natural disaster
  • the employee engages in the activity on a voluntary basis
  • the employee was either requested to engage in an activity, or it would be reasonable to expect that such a request would have been made if circumstances had permitted
  • the employee is a member of, or has a member-like association with a recognised emergency management body.

Recognised emergency management body

A recognised emergency management body is:

  • a body that has a role or function under a plan that is for coping with emergencies / natural disasters (prepared by the Commonwealth or a state or territory)
  • a fire-fighting, civil defence or rescue body
  • any other body which is mainly involved in responding to an emergency or natural disaster.

This includes bodies such as:

  • the State Emergency Service (SES)
  • Country Fire Authority (CFA)
  • the RSPCA (in respect of animal rescue during emergencies or natural disasters).

How much leave is an employee entitled to?

An employee is entitled to take community service leave while they are engaged in the activity and for reasonable travel and rest time. There is no limit on the amount of community service leave an employee can take.

Are there notice and evidence requirements?

An employee who takes community service leave must give their employer:

  • notice of the absence as soon as possible (this may be after the leave starts)
  • the period or expected period of absence.

An employer may request an employee who has given notice, to provide evidence that they’re entitled to community service leave.

Source reference: Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) Sections 110

  • Long service leave

An employee gets long service leave after a long period of working for the same employer.

Most employees entitlement to long service leave comes from long service leave laws in each state or territory. These laws set out:

  • how long an employee has to be working to get long service leave (eg. after 7 years)
  • how much long service leave the employee gets.

In some states and territories long serving casuals are eligible for long service leave.

To find out about long service leave entitlements, contact the long service leave agency in your state or territory:

Long service leave in pre-modern awards and agreements

The state and territory long service leave laws don’t apply when there are long service leave entitlements in:

In these cases the long service leave entitlement comes from the pre-modern award or registered agreement, which will set out:

  • how long an employee has to be working to get long service leave (eg. after 7 years)
  • how much long service leave the employee gets.

Minimum wages and other conditions for your job may be contained in an award, registered agreement and/or an employment contract.

To find long service leave entitlements in a federal pre-modern award:

  • use Award Finder external-icon.png if you know the award or
  • call Fairwork Ombudsman for help finding out about federal pre-modern awards and long service leave entitlements.

Before you call, please complete their before you call checklist.

Long service leave when a registered agreement is terminated

When a registered agreement is terminated, employees will receive long service leave entitlements either from:

  • the relevant pre-modern award, if it contains long service leave provisions
  • the state or territory legislation.

Before a registered agreement is terminated, an employee covered by it can apply to the Fair Work Commission to make an order to continue the long service leave entitlements after the agreement ends.

Portable long service leave

Australian states and territories have legislation to provide employees in the coal mining, cleaning and building and construction industries with access to portable long service leave.

This means an employee keeps their long service leave entitlement even if they work on different projects for one or more employers.

For portable long service leave in the:

Source reference: Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) Sections 113

  • Public holidays

Public holidays can be different depending on the state or territory you work in.

It’s important to know when public holidays are because employees can get different entitlements on these days.

You can calculate these entitlements using Pay Calculator.

Go to List of public holidays page for a full list of public holidays in your state or territory.

Working outside your state on a public holiday

An employee is entitled to public holidays depending on where they are based for work not where they are working on the day of the public holiday.

  • Notice of termination and redundancy pay

Employment can end for many different reasons. An employee may resign or can be dismissed (fired). However it ends, it’s important to follow the rules about dismissal, notice and final pay.

There are also different rights and obligations when a job is made redundant or when a business is bankrupt. Visit Fair Work Ombudsman – Ending Employment for more details.

  • Fair Work Information Statement

Employers have to give every new employee a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement (the Statement) before, or as soon as possible after, they start their new job.

The Statement provides new employees with information about their conditions of employment.

The Statement has information on:

  • the National Employment Standards
  • right to request flexible working arrangements
  • modern awards
  • making agreements under the Fair Work Act
  • individual flexibility arrangements
  • freedom of association and workplace rights (general protections)
  • termination of employment
  • right of entry
  • the role of the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Fair Work Commission.

Providing the Statement

The Statement can be given to new employees:

  • in person
  • by mail
  • by email
  • by emailing a link to our website
  • by fax.

Download the Fair Work Information Statement

Source reference: Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) Sections 125