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FOOD & DRINK

Hospitality and Other Casual Workers Will Get Sick Pay Under a Two-Year Victorian Government Trial

The State Government-funded trial will see casual workers provided with up to five days of paid sick or carers leave.
By Samantha Teague
November 23, 2020
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By Samantha Teague
November 23, 2020
  shares

Those who've ever worked in hospitality or retail — or any another other casual job — will recognise this scenario: you wake up with a sniffly nose and either go to work and risk getting your coworkers sick or stay home and don't get paid. While working "just a little bit sick" before the pandemic was frowned upon, now it's a huge no-no.

At the moment, Melburnians who must isolate because of COVID-19, and aren't entitled to paid sick leave, special pandemic leave or other income support, can receive a one-off $450 test isolation payment or a $1500 worker support payment — but these are temporary. To help support casual workers in the long-term, the Victorian Government has today, Monday, November 23, announced an Australian first: a two-year trial of paid sick and carers leave for those with insecure work.

Called Secure Work Pilot Scheme, the State Government-funded trial will provide up to five days of sick and carers leave at the national minimum wage ($19.84 per hour) to workers in industries such as cleaning, hospitality, security, supermarkets and aged care.

Those in eligible occupations, which are set to be finalised after consultation with workers and unions, will be able to pre-register for the pilot. It's set to be rolled out in two phases over two years, commencing in late 2021 or early 2022.

Julia Sansone

Announcing the scheme today, Premier Daniel Andrews said: "When people have nothing to fall back on, they make a choice between the safety of their workmates and feeding their family. The ultimate decision they make isn't wrong – what's wrong is they're forced to make it at all."

Andrews acknowledged that the trial would not "solve the problem of insecure work overnight" but that it was a start.

Earlier on in Melbourne's second wave — when the number of new daily cases rose to 687 — Andrews said that people working instead of isolating was "the biggest driver of transmission" and that insecure work was "the structural weakness in our economy".

According to the ABC, Australia has the third highest rate of insecure work among developed countries and 37 per cent of Australian employees did not have access to paid leave entitlements in the lead up to the pandemic

Victoria's Secure Work Pilot Scheme is set to be rolled out in late 2021 or early 2022. To find out more, head to the Victorian Government website

Top image: Julia Sansone

Published on November 23, 2020 by Samantha Teague

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