Victoria introduces first sick pay guarantee for casual workers

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Friday, 11 March, 2022 - 12:15
Industry news

The Victorian Government is introducing a $245.6 million scheme that will allow eligible casual and contract workers in certain occupations to receive up to five days a year of sick or carer’s pay at the national minimum wage.

Workers are able to register for the two-year pilot program, and it is anticipated that more than 150,000 workers will be eligible in the first phase of the sick pay guarantee.

Occupations included in the first phase include hospitality workers, food trades workers and preparation assistants such as chefs and kitchen hands, supermarket and supply chain workers, retail and sales assistants, aged and disability care workers, cleaners and laundry workers and security guards.

Before the pandemic, the government said many casual and contract workers were forced to choose between a day’s pay or their health.

Furthermore, around one in five casual and contract workers work more than one job to earn a living – many without access to sick and carer’s pay.

The government is fully funding the scheme over the first two years, which is expected to demonstrate a reduction in workplace injuries and illness, general productivity improvements from healthier workers, and lower staff turnover rates.

The government will also administer the program directly to workers, and the guarantee builds on temporary measures implemented during the pandemic, including the COVID-19 worker support payment (now the Australian Government’s pandemic leave disaster payment) and the COVID-19 test isolation payment.

“We need every worker for the recovery of our economy – the best way to do that is through secure work. This scheme will protect more Victorians and give them the support they need when they’re sick or caring for a loved one,” said Minister for Workplace Safety Ingrid Stitt.