Of all the different types of workplace relationships, permanent employment offers workers with the most benefits and entitlements. However, to ensure that they receive them, permanent staff need to understand clearly what these are. This article discusses what permanent staff should look for in their permanent employment contract.

Permanent Employment

Permanent staff work on a predictable and ongoing basis. Their jobs end only at the instigation of the employee or employer.

Permanent staff can work full-time or part-time. Full-time employees work approximately thirty-eight hours per week. These hours are either as agreed or are set in the relevant award, agreement or contract. A full-time worker has all of the benefits and entitlements of continuous employment.

Part-time employees work less than thirty-eight hours per week. Their working hours are regular. They receive all the same benefits as full-time staff but on a pro-rata basis. That is, according to the number of hours worked.

What To Look For in Your Permanent Employment Contract

As a permanent employee, you must at a minimum have all of the entitlements listed in the National Employment Standards (NES). The NES are ten minimum entitlements that apply to all employees in the national workplace system. However, casual employees are only entitled to four of them.

As a permanent employee, you need to check that your agreement provides you with all of the NES entitlements.

The NES covers rights about:

  • Maximum weekly hours;
  • Requests for flexible working arrangements;
  • Parental leave and related entitlements;
  • Annual leave;
  • Personal carer’s leave and compassionate leave;
  • Community service Leave;
  • Long service leave;
  • Public holidays;
  • Notice of termination and redundancy pay; and
  • The Fair Work Information Statement.

1. Maximum Weekly Hours

Your agreement must specify your ordinary hours of employment. It should also detail your maximum ordinary hours (expressed as days, weeks, months), minimum ordinary hours in a day and those times when you will work them (known as your spread of hours).

The NES guarantees that you can only be required to work a maximum of thirty-eight ordinary hours per week. Your agreement cannot require you to work more than that amount of ordinary hours.

2. Flexible Arrangements

You can request flexible working if you have worked for your employer for at least twelve months. You must also be:

  • A parent, or have care of a child school aged or younger;
  • A carer (per the Carer Recognition Act 2010 (Cth));
  • Have a disability (and qualify for a Disability Support Pension under the Social Security Act 1991 (Cth));
  • Be aged 55 or above;
  • Experiencing family or domestic violence; or
  • Be providing care or support to an immediate family member or member of your household who is experiencing family or domestic violence.

Your employer can only refuse a request on reasonable business grounds. Reasonable business grounds can concern your location of work, pattern of work (for example, job sharing) or hours of work. Check your agreement allows you to make this request if you meet all the criteria.

3. Parental Leave

The NES provides access to parental leave. Parental leave includes maternity leave, paternity/partner leave, adoption leave and special maternity leave. This entitlement also provides for safe job, and no safe job leave if you experience health difficulties while pregnant.

You have the right to return to your old job after your leave ends.

4. Other Leave Entitlements

You need to check that your agreement gives you all minimum leave entitlements.

All permanent staff have the right to annual leave. It is typically for four weeks per year, based on ordinary hours worked. You also have access under the NES to:

  • Personal carer’s leave;
  • Compassionate leave;
  • Community service leave; and
  • Long service leave (provided you meet all relevant criteria).

Be aware that your personal leave (for personal illness) comes under the same leave entitlement as personal carer’s leave. It is usually ten days per year for full-time staff.

5. Public Holidays

As a permanent staff member, you also receive all public holiday entitlements. Your agreement should provide you with these.

6. Notice

You must give your employer notice if and when you decide to leave your employment. It is advisable to check your permanent employment contract to see when you must give notice and if there are any requirements as to how you do so.

If your employer terminates your employment, they must notify you in writing and provide you with a notice period. They can pay you for this period, or you can work it.

Be sure that your agreement provides specifics for both these matters.

Also, you should be aware of the circumstances that your employer can terminate you. If you later consider making an unfair dismissal claim, you need to know such information. However, in cases of serious misconduct your employer does not need to provide notice of termination. They must only pay you any outstanding entitlements.

7. Redundancy

Check that your agreement requires your employer to consult with you before making any redundancies. If you are released, you have the right to redundancy pay.

Be aware that if your redundancy is genuine at law because your employer no longer needs your position filled or has engaged in appropriate consultation, you cannot make a claim for unfair dismissal.

8. Fair Work Information Statement

Along with your permanent employment contract, you must also receive a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement.

9. Other Considerations

Check that your permanent employment contract guarantees you a safe workplace free from harassment and discrimination. Your employer also needs to make all appropriate superannuation contributions and withhold income tax as required. You should also receive regular payslips.

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Carole Hemingway

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