Politics

Casual Workers In Victoria Will Soon Be Paid Sick Leave

“Insecure work is toxic."

casual workers cinderella

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.

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.

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.

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.