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new Legal workplace laws


Cite as: Jan/Feb 2010 84(1/2) LIJ, p.12

On 1 January there were some significant changes to Australia’s workplace laws that affect your practice.

The new safety net, the second and final stage of the introduction of the Fair Work Act 2009, is now operational and has two key components – modern awards and the new National Employment Standards (NES).

Legal Services Award 2010

All existing awards and industry sectors have been replaced by modern awards.

The Legal Services Award 2010 covers all clerical and administrative employees, law clerks and law graduates within the legal services industry.

The award can be downloaded from the Fair Work Australia website –

It sets out new minimum rates of pay. However, transitional provisions mean that in most cases these rates do not apply until 1 July 2010 and will be phased in over five annual instalments (see Schedule A of the award for details).

Lawyers are exempt from the award.

National Employment Standards (NES)

The NES sets out 10 minimum workplace entitlements that now apply to all employers and employees in the national workplace relations system. They are:

1. Maximum weekly hours of work – 38 hours per week, plus reasonable additional hours.

2. Requests for flexible working arrangements – allows parents or carers of a child under school age or of a child under 18 with a disability, to request a change in working arrangements to assist with the child’s care.

3. Parental leave and related entitlements – up to 12 months unpaid leave for every employee, plus a right to request an additional 12 months unpaid leave, plus other forms of maternity, paternity and adoption related leave. 

4. Annual leave – four weeks paid leave per year.

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) per occasion.

6. Community service leave – unpaid leave for voluntary emergency activities and leave for jury service, with an entitlement to be paid for up to 10 days for jury service.

7. Long service leave – a transitional entitlement for certain employees who had certain LSL entitlements before 1 January 2010 pending the development of a uniform national long service leave standard.

8. Public holidays – paid days off on recognised public holidays, except where reasonably requested to work.

9. Notice of termination and redundancy pay – up to four weeks notice of termination (five weeks if the employee is over 45 with at least two years continuous service) and up to 16 weeks redundancy pay, both based on length of service.

10. Provision of a fair work information statement – employers must provide this statement to all new employees.

Further details can be found on the LIV website under “Membership”, “Human Resources”, “Awards, Wages, Terms & Conditions” or see the Fair Work website at, or contact the Fair Work info line on ph 13 13 94.

To assist firms to comply with the new award, the LIV is running a series of one hour briefings detailing the key changes, their impacts and what firms need to do to effectively address and manage their obligations. For details, see Detail&function_code=CPD10L 2502/CPD10L2502&eventid =CPD10L2502.


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