Casual workers in Victoria state to get 5 days paid sick leave

Victoria will be the first state in Australia to push out a trial to grant five days of paid sick and carer’s leave annually to casual workers.
By: | March 17, 2022

Victoria’s premier Daniel Andrews announced the A$246 million (US$177 million) scheme to tackle the “toxic nature” of insecure work.

Under this scheme, eligible casual and contract workers will get up to five days a year of sick or carer’s pay at the national minimum wage of A$20.33 (US$14.62) an hour or A$772.60 (US$555.73) per week.

The first phase of the two-year trial will be open to about 150,000 workers in hospitality, retail, aged and disability care, cleaning and laundry services, security and the supermarket and supply chain industries. Workers in these sectors can apply for the leave via the government’s Service Victoria website.

The decision to launch the trial is due to the “completely and utterly toxic” nature of insecure work, with some casual and contract workers forced to choose between feeding their family or going to work while infected with COVID-19, as they could not afford to take time off. “That’s not a criticism of them, but it is certainly of the system that lets them down badly,” Andrews said.

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The trial is expected to reduce workplace injuries and illness, improve productivity from healthier workers and lower staff turnover rates, which would hopefully gain support from businesses.

However, business and industry groups have called the trial a “handbrake” that will stop the state from recovering from the pandemic, according to The Guardian.