This week the Victorian Government announced an Australian-first sick pay guarantee for casual and contract employees (including those who are self-employed). The ‘Victorian Sick Pay Guarantee Scheme’ (Scheme) will be available to casual employees in eligible industries for a period of 2 years.
Under the Scheme, workers in eligible industries will be entitled to 5 days (38 hours) of paid sick/carer’s leave per annum, paid at the national minimum wage (currently $20.33 per hour). This entitlement will be paid directly by the Victorian Government to workers and is in addition to the 25% casual loading most of the eligible workers receive from their employers. The 5 days of leave will not accumulate or roll over year-to year.
The Scheme will initially be available to workers in the following industries:
- Hospitality workers
- Food trades workers and food preparation assistants
- Supermarket workers
- Sales support workers and sales assistants
- Other labourers who work in supermarket supply chains
- Aged and disability care workers
- Cleaners and laundry workers
- Security officers and guards
Under the Scheme, eligible workers:
- can make a claim for a minimum of 3 hours and maximum of 12 hours of leave per day;
- are required to provide a medical certificate if more than 15 hours consecutive leave is claimed;
- must make a claim within 60 days of the absence from work, unless there are special circumstances;
- are unable to claim for absence that have occurred prior to registering for the Scheme; and
- will usually receive payment of approved claims within 5 business days directly from the Victorian Government.
To be eligible to register and make claims under the Scheme, a worker must:
- be over 15 years (with parental/guardian permission for those under 18 years);
- be a casual employee or self-employed with no other employees (sole trader or independent contractor);
- not be entitled to paid sick, carer’s or personal leave in any of their jobs;
- work physically in Victoria;
- have the right to work in Australia;
- work in an eligible occupation; and
- on average work at least 7.6 hours per week in an eligible occupation.
Registration for the Scheme and claims for paid leave can be made through the Victorian Government Sick Pay Guarantee website. The Victorian Government may contact employers or principal contractors to confirm details provided by the applying worker, but employers will otherwise not be required to be involved in the registration of workers for the Scheme or making of claims.
The 2-year pilot of the Scheme will be fully funded by the State Government. Should the Scheme continue beyond the pilot phase, employers may be required to pay an industry levy to fund the Scheme.
If you have any questions as to how this Scheme may affect your workforce or business, HR Legal can provide further advice.