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ACCORDING to the Office of the Employment Advocate, under the federal government’s new industrial relations legislation The Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard guarantees that an employee cannot be required or requested to work: •more than 38 hours a week plus reasonable additional hours; or •an average of 38 hours a week over a period of up to 12 months (if the employee and the employer agree in writing) and reasonable additional hours. Agreement in writing can be in a workplace agreement, an award, or otherwise. In calculating the number of hours that the employee has worked per week, any authorised leave, such as personal leave, should be included. There are some circumstances in which the guarantee of maximum hours of work does not apply. Specifically, where the employee/employer is bound by a federal award or a notional agreement preserving state award, the hours of work guarantee will not apply for a period of three years from March 27 2006. Whether additional hours are ‘reasonable’ for the purposes of the standard will depend on the circumstances of each case. However, in determining whether additional hours are reasonable all relevant factors must be taken into account. These factors include: •any risk to the employee’s health and safety; •the employee’s personal circumstances, including family responsibilities; •operational working requirements; •the amount of notice provided to the employee that the additional hours are required or requested; •whether the additional hours are on a public holiday; and •the employee’s hours of work over the preceding four-week period. Employees are entitled to a day off on a public holiday. An employer may request that an employee work on a public holiday, however an employee may refuse that request where the employee has reasonable grounds for doing so. In determining whether an employee has reasonable grounds for refusing to work on a public holiday, the following factors will be taken into account: •the nature of the work performed by the employee; •the type of employment (for example, whether full-time, part-time, casual or shift work); •the nature of the employer’s workplace or enterprise (including its operational requirements); •the employee’s reasons for refusing the request; •the employee’s personal circum-stances (including family reasons); •whether the employee is entitled to additional remuneration or other benefits as a consequence of working on the public holiday; •whether a workplace agreement, award, other industrial instrument, contract of employment or written guideline or policy that regulates the employee’s employment contem-plates that the employer might require work on public holidays, or particular public holidays; •whether the employee has acknowledged or could reasonably expect that the employer might require work on public holidays or particular public holidays; •the amount of notice in advance of the public holiday given by the employer when making the request; •the amount of notice in advance of the public holiday given by the employee in refusing the request; •whether an emergency or other unforeseen circumstances are involved; and •any other relevant factors.

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