Casual workers in the Victorian state will be able to access sick pay under a new two-year pilot scheme that the Victorian Government will start trialling early next year.
The scheme would see casual workers access up to five days' worth of sick or carer’s pay at the national minimum wage.
The new national minimum wage is $20.33 per hour or $772.60 per week.
The pilot means casual workers who are sick can stay at home and avoid spreading illness at the workplace without risking the hit to their pay packet.
“It is unacceptable that any worker should have to choose between feeding their family and keeping their workmates and community safe,” Victorian Minister for Workplace Safety Ingrid Stitt said.
“This scheme will remove that terrible choice for our most vulnerable workers.”
Frontline workers that also face a high degree of job insecurity, such as aged care staff, supermarket workers, security guards and hospitality workers will be first in line for the pilot scheme.
The Secure Work Pilot Scheme, first announced in November last year, is scheduled to begin in the “first half of next year” and is currently in a consultation phase.
The Victorian Government is asking for submissions from different industries and employers, workers, unions and the community for their input on the scheme and for help shaping it.
“We want to hear from any workers who have been forced to choose between a day’s pay and their health – and the health of every Victorian,” said a statement from Stitt’s office.
“The risks around insecure work cannot be ignored any longer – so we’re putting our hand up when no other government has, to improve the health, safety and economic security of these vital workers.”
At the moment, casual workers in Australia don’t have access to paid sick leave, but can access two days’ unpaid carer’s leave and two days’ compassionate leave if needed.
Meanwhile, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is signalling he is seeking further support for casual workers.
Perrotet last week announced a business support package containing $10,000 grants if businesses impacted by the lockdown had suffered major drops in turnover.
And he wants to offer even more, with Perrottet on Thursday saying he was pushing for more federal aid.
“I’ll continue to work with [Federal Treasurer] Josh Frydenberg to see if we can get some further support for casual workers, because I want to make sure, as we’ve been successful over the last 18 months as a state, that we keep as many workers in work and as many businesses in business," he told 2GB.
What payments can I access?
In August last year, the Federal Government introduced the ‘Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment’ of $1,500 a fortnight for workers who had no sick leave but had to self-isolate due to COVID-19.
NSW casual workers can also access $500 lockdown payments if they’ve been unable to work because of the restrictions.
Meanwhile, workers in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the ACT can also access payments of up to $450 if they’re isolating to await COVID-19 test results.