Casual Workers In Victoria Will Soon Be Paid Sick Leave
“Insecure work is toxic."
Casual workers in Victoria will soon be eligible for sick leave, something that workers having been crying out for since the start of the pandemic.
Today Premier Daniel Andrews announced a new pilot program — the Secure Work Pilot Scheme — which will provide up to five days of sick and carer’s pay at the national minimum wage, which is $19.84. It will apply to casual and insecure workers in “priority industries”.
Throughout the pandemic many casuals have struggled to choose whether they can afford to take a sick day and miss out on a day’s wage.
Time and time again we’ve seen the fallout of that — in Hobart, where a casual did several shifts at a hotel despite being told to isolate; in Adelaide, where a security guard from a quarantine hotel went to his second job at a pizza bar while unknowingly infected; and in Melbourne, where casuals feeling pressure to go to work were blamed for helping spread the virus.
He / she was probably just scared. Almost all of our Covid clusters are linked to insecure or off the books work. We are *discovering* how a dysfunctional labour market has serious public health impacts. https://t.co/BaBuwjzRQE
— Tim Lyons (@Picketer) November 20, 2020
Daniel Andrews referenced that when making the announcement today, telling journalists the pandemic had exposed cracks in the system.
“Insecure work is toxic. Insecure work isn’t just bad for those who work under those conditions, it’s bad for all of us and we pay a price for the fact that so many people — particularly those who work in public facing jobs — do not have sick leave,” he said.
Because it’s 2020 – not 1820.
No one should have to go to work sick because they can’t afford not to.
No one should have to choose between caring for a loved one and getting paid.
And this way – they won’t.
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) November 23, 2020
— Young Workers Centre (@YWCVictoria) November 22, 2020
Victoria will be the first state in Australia to offer sick leave to casuals. Currently they have one-off payments available for people without sick leave who test positive for COVID-19, or need to isolate after getting tested.
The new scheme is only a two-year pilot program so far, and only workers in select sectors with high rates of casualisation will be covered. Those eligible workers will be finalised after a consultation with workers, industry and unions.
It's significantly less expensive to resolve insecure work (particularly in government funded, frontline services) than to lockdown states and close borders. The fact that we're more willing to the latter its an insight into how much our economy relies on the former.
— Osman Faruqi (@oz_f) November 20, 2020
While the tab for the pilot will be picked up by the state government, any future ongoing scheme will be subject to an industry levy.
The trial will be introduced in late 2021 or 2022.