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Casual workers get $1,500 if they must isolate, but there’s a catch

·3-min read
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian wearing a face mask, Australian $50 notes.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has urged sick Sydneysiders to get tested. (Images: Getty).

Casual workers across Australia are eligible for $1,500 Pandemic Leave Payments, however only some states offer payments to workers waiting test results.

The $1,500 Pandemic Leave Payment is a payment open to workers who are required to isolate if they are a close contact or a carer of a person with COVID-19, or if they have COVID-19 themselves.

The payment is available for every 14 day period that person is required to isolate, and is available across Australia to people without paid leave entitlements or access to other income support.

Workers in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory are also eligible for payments ranging from $270 to $450 while they wait for COVID-19 test results.

However, NSW workers don’t have access to similar payments.

Casual workers can access payments up to $500 if they have lost more than 20 hours, or around 2.5 days of work, or $325 if they have lost less than 20 hours of work.

However, these payments are also limited to workers in Sydney, Greater Sydney, Wollongong, the Blue Mountains and the Central Coast and only kick in on the second week of a lockdown, or sweeping public health restriction.

Questioned on Monday about support for casual workers if they need to call in sick, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the “onus” is on the individual to get tested.

“Employers and businesses have been outstanding in relation to allowing their workers, during work time to get tested and to stay home and isolate and all those things. I just urge all of us to take responsibility,” she said.

“The onus is on us as individuals. Businesses have been supported through our grants in relation to the current lockdown but I just ask individuals to please take personal responsibility. By your own actions, you might be infecting your entire workplace and then shutting down your workplace.”

It comes as unions and welfare groups increase calls for casual worker support.

The Australian Council of Social Services has warned there are “major gaps” in the $500 COVID-19 Disaster payments.

“Payments should apply for the entire duration of lockdowns, not just after the first week. In the event the duration of a lockdown is not known from the outset, people should be back paid for the first week of the lockdown,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.

She said the JobKeeper wage subsidy also needs to be reinstated to ensure workers don’t lose income over the course of a lockdown or border closure.

“It is more important than ever that the Federal Government fixes these key income support payments – disaster payments, JobSeeker and JobKeeper – and extends them to everyone who needs them,” Goldie said.

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) president Michele O’Neil described workers as having been “abandoned” with “no support”.

“Workers in four States and Territories are living in limbo and have no access to financial support during these lockdowns.”

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Image: Yahoo Finance
Image: Yahoo Finance
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