Monday, April 4, 2022

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Australian first: Paid sick leave for casual staff in Victoria

From Monday, March 24th, 2022, casual workers in Victoria who work in certain industries such as retail, hospitality, and cleaning, are eligible for five days of paid sick or carers’ leave at the national minimum wage rate (38 hours per week at $20.33 per hour) for a trial period of 2 years. It is estimated that the Victorian Sick Pay Guarantee will cost taxpayers $245.6 million before the financial burden will be placed on employers through a levy.

Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews who announced the scheme noted the pandemic had highlighted the difficult choice many casual workers face when unwell – the choice between feeding their families or looking after their own health.

The scheme is the first of its kind in Australia. Premier Andrews hoped businesses would support the scheme which was designed to enhance productivity (due to healthier workers and lower staff turnover).  The scheme has received criticism from some business leaders as they had not been consulted in the process.

One of the major criticisms is the uncertainty the scheme will create around the meaning and future of casual employment. For example, it does not consider the 25% casual loading developed under industrial law to compensate for the loss of permanent employment entitlements, such as leave. In effect, this means casual workers can double dip.

This scheme is likely to see businesses in certain sectors restructure their workforces and move away from casual workers, seeking alternatives like on-demand labour hire.


Manouri Adikaram

Client Manager - Employee Benefits

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