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Victorian sick leave plan for casual workers dubbed ‘illogical’

(Source: Bigstock)

In a pilot scheme, the Victorian government has announced it will trial a sick leave for casual workers estimated to cost $245.6 million over a two year period.

The Victorian Sick Pay Guarantee program will be initially funded by taxpayers which will then be picked up by a levy applied to the businesses. 

Casual workers in industries such as hospitality, food trade and food preparation enterprises, supermarkets, retail and sales, aged and disability care, cleaners and security guards are eligible under this. 

The scheme will provide five days or 38 hours of paid or carers leave for workers in the above categories. Workers in these industries will be able to claim up to $772.54 a year. Freelancers and self-employed traders also qualify to apply.  

Australian Retail Association CEO Paul Zahra said he was “concerned” about the issue of ongoing funding after the two-year mark.

“Casuals already receive a loading paid by employers to cover sick leave and holiday pay. This additional payment could disincentivise workers to take the step towards permanent employment, which is the ultimate aim of many employers, particularly in a skills crisis like the one we are currently experiencing,” he said. 

Tim Piper, Victorian head of the employer association Ai Group said the scheme is ‘deeply flawed and should be abandoned’.

“The government has costed Stage 1 at $245.6 million for a two year period. Presumably, Phase 2 will involve an even wider set of eligible occupations and a much larger cost,” he said.

“The prospect of a hefty payroll levy in two years’ time to fund this illogical scheme, will kill investment in Victoria and put a hand-break on the recovery.”

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