Australia moves to provide casual workers with sick leave
There have been growing calls from epidemiologists, unions and the Victorian Labour government for sick leave to be extended to casual workers.
Prof Adrian Esterman, an epidemiologist at the University of South Australia, described a permanent sick pay scheme for casuals as a “good investment”, particularly for infectious diseases, reports The Guardian.
“The more people who stay at home when they are unwell, the better it is for the entire country – particularly when it’s an infectious disease,” he explained.
“It will cost employers even more when other people catch whatever they [the sick worker] have and the rest of the staff get infected,” he added.
“No one should have to choose between their health and a day’s pay,” said Victoria’s minister for employment, Jaala Pulford.
So far, the Victorian state government has paid out A$6m (US$4.2 million) for over 30,000 workers who have signed up to its pilot scheme to trial sick leave for casuals over the past four months.
The scheme applies to casual employees in industries like hospitality, supermarkets and retail, and gives casual workers five days of paid sick or carer’s leave at the minimum wage of A$21.38 (US$14.95) an hour.