The Coalition Reckons Casuals Don’t Need Coronavirus Sick Leave Because They’re “Paid Extra”

"I'm sure all those uber eats delivery drivers have stashed away a fabulous nest egg."

christian porter

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The minister who’s supposed to be advocating for workers has instead infuriated them by suggesting casual workers without sick leave will be fine if they need to quarantine themselves, because they’re paid more.

Yes, our Industrial Relations Minister — who pockets hundreds of thousands of dollars a year — is expecting the workers predominantly found in our lowest paid industries to have enough set aside in case a global health emergency forces them to go without a pay cheque for two weeks.

“Many people would have already made provisions for that because of course the purpose of casual employment is that you’re paid extra in-lieu of the types of entitlements,” Christian Porter said yesterday.

Unions have been calling on the government to provide paid sick leave for casual workers if they need to miss work because of a coronavirus quarantine.

ACTU Secretary Sally McManus says many workers in that situation would have to choose between isolating themselves or paying their bills.

Considering casual workers are mostly found in jobs with a high rate of person-to-person contact — think retail, hospitality, and even health care — it’s less than ideal, to say the least.

Casual workers are paid an extra 25% in casual loading to make up for the fact that they don’t have access to paid leave.

In a perfect world that extra $4.87 an hour (based on minimum wage) would be enough to cover people for emergencies, but instead we’re stuck with this imperfect one where a third of Australians live pay cheque to pay cheque.

Porter said the challenges faced by casual workers would be “one of many things to be considered” by the government, but they haven’t given any details on how they will do that.

In their place businesses have had to step up. Uber is the latest company to announce they will pay any delivery people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or asked to self-isolate, for up to 14 days.

Macquarie University has also announced they’ll pay casual staff who need to be quarantined but can’t work from home.

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