Should Casual Workers receive paid sick leave?

The Victorian government has introduced a pilot scheme to trial paid personal leave (sick leave and carers leave) for casual workers!

Prior to this scheme, casual workers were not entitled to receive paid sick leave (or annual leave).  Instead, they receive a casual loading (25% higher rate of pay) in lieu of these entitlements.

The two-year pilot started this week.  Paid sick leave will be available to casual employees who work within eligible industries identified to have large cohorts of casual workers.

The following industries are listed in the first phase of the scheme:

  • Hospitality 
  • Food services 
  • Supermarkets
  • Retail
  • Security
  • Aged and disability sector; and
  • Cleaning

This scheme will provide up to five days of paid sick or carers leave annually, for workers at the national minimum rate which is currently $20.33 per hour.

This will be on top of the 25% casual loading most of these workers would receive.

Industry Business groups have raised several concerns about the scheme.  They feel it amounts to double dipping.  Casual employees will continue to receive a 25% casual loading and also be eligible for up to 5 days paid sick leave per year.  Some employers fear that casual workers will simply view the new entitlement as five days paid leave.  The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra said the two-year pilot was unnecessary and now was not the time to impose additional financial burden on the taxpayer.

Victoria is the first place in Australia to trial paid sick leave for casual workers. The Victorian government stated that they believe the scheme will reduce workplace injuries and illness, improve productivity and lead to lower staff turnover rates.  Some Industrial relations experts and unions have welcomed the scheme, saying that the pandemic has highlighted the dangers of workers not having a safety net.  Many workers have had to choose between working when unwell or taking an unpaid day to recuperate.

Who pays for this scheme?

For the first two years this $245 million scheme will be funded by the Victorian taxpayers, with a possible business levy on the horizon after this time.

The trial will be assessed over the next two years, and it remains to be seen whether this scheme will be extended or scrapped at the end of this time. 

For more information on the scheme to go https://service.vic.gov.au/services/sick-pay-guarantee/apply

Please contact us with any enquires.

About the Author
Kate Cain
Kate is a flexible, team player, with a strong mix of communication, organisational, strategic and administration skills, which allow her to work across the diverse spectrums of Human Resources and Training.
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