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Casual workers in Victoria are set to get sick leave in an Australian-first scheme, where they don’t have to choose between losing money or turning up sick to work. 

The Victorian State government announced the ‘Australia-first policy on Monday to help workers in the state to take time off work if they are sick or visit loved ones who need care. 

Eligible casual and contract workers will be given five days of paid sick leave per year under the trial, dolled out at the annual national minimum wage of $20.33 per hour.

The initiative will be funded by the Andrew’s government for the two years.

Workers can register themselves for the two-year pilot program now, which the government estimate will attract 150,000 eligible workers in its first phase. 

‘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,’ their statement said. 

 

 

 

 

About 150,000 workers in the hospitality, security, retail, cleaning, aged and disability care sectors will be included in the first phase.

These workers can register for the two-year pilot from Monday.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the difficult choice casual workers had to make between feeding their family and looking after the health of themselves, their families and their workmates.

“The pandemic has exposed things that are just wrong, and we have to do more, and we have to do better,” he told reporters on Monday.

“Let’s be clear: insecure work is toxic. It’s not just toxic in our state, it’s a problem across the whole country.”

The Andrews Labor government will fund the scheme for its first two years.

It is expected to reduce workplace injuries and illness, improve productivity and lead to lower staff turnover rates, the state government said.

The United Workers Union, which represents many insecure workers covered by the pilot program, called on other jurisdictions to follow Victoria’s lead.

“If the COVID pandemic has shown us anything, it is that casual, precarious and insecure work has ramifications for the health of the whole community,” UWU National Secretary Tim Kennedy said.

“I commend the Andrews government for listening to the concerns put to them by workers and the union and call on the federal government and other state governments to consider a similar program.”

He called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to amend the National Employment Standards to ensure 10 days of paid sick leave for all workers.

Source: DailyMail

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