Thinking | 16 March 2022

Victoria guarantees sick pay for casual workers

By Alison Baker 

The Victorian Government has launched the Victorian Sick Pay Guarantee, a pilot scheme which allows casual employees and self-employed workers to claim up to 38 hours of paid sick or carer’s leave each year.

Eligibility

According to the Sick Pay Guarantee Program Guidelines, workers must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the Sick Pay Guarantee:

Age 15+ The worker must be 15 years or older. Any worker who is under 18 years old will need a parent or guardian to consent to them making a claim in accordance with the Victorian Sick Guarantee Program Guidelines.
Casual employee OR self-employed The worker must be a casual employee or a self-employed worker with no other employees.
No leave entitlements The worker must not already be entitled to paid personal, sick or carer’s leave in any of their jobs.
Workplace in Victoria The worker’s workplace must be physically located in Victoria.
Right to work The worker must have the right to work in Australia.
Eligible occupation The worker must work in an eligible occupation, such as an aged care or disability worker, hospitality worker, cleaner, security officer, food trades worker, or retail worker. A full list of eligible occupations is contained in Appendix 1 of the Sick Pay Guarantee Program Guidelines.
Average of 7.6 hours of work per week The worker must work an average of at least 7.6 hours per week in an eligible occupation. The average hours worked can be calculated by dividing the total number of hours worked by the number of weeks worked in the relevant period of work.
Inability to work The worker must be able to confirm that, during the claim period, they were unable to work because of a personal injury or illness or because they needed to care for an immediate family member or household member affected by an injury or illness or an unexpected emergency.
No other income The worker must be able to show that during the claim period, they did not get any other income or earnings from paid work, Government payments (eg JobSeeker, Covid-19 Disaster Payment), or other payments (eg Worker’s Compensation, income protection insurance).

 

To show evidence of eligibility for the Sick Pay Guarantee, a worker must show a combination of identification documents and proof of eligible occupation documents. Additionally, for claims of 15 hours or more a worker must submit documentary evidence (eg a medical or carer’s certificate) to support their claim.

Eligible occupations

The Sick Pay Guarantee targets occupations that have been identified as both vulnerable and vital and covers the following types of workers:

  • hospitality workers;
  • food trades workers and food preparation assistants;
  • supermarket workers;
  • retail and sales assistants;
  • aged and disability care workers;
  • cleaners and laundry workers; and
  • security guards.

A full list of eligible occupations is contained in Appendix 1 of the Sick Pay Guarantee Program Guidelines. The Victorian Government aims to explore the possibility of including more eligible occupations as the Sick Pay Guarantee progresses.

Submitting a claim

Claims must be submitted within 60 days of the worker’s absence and must be for a minimum of three hours for any day. The maximum amount a worker can claim across a 12-month period is 38 hours (ie five days). Each claim is paid at the national minimum wage as it is on the date of the claim (currently $20.33 per hour/$772.54 per week).

Advice to employers

Generally, applications for the Sick Pay Guarantee do not require the involvement of employers, and an employee does not have to advise their employer they are submitting a claim. However, employers may be involved when an employee requests evidence of employment that they do not already have or may be contacted by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions to verify a worker’s application or claim.

Employers should be aware that while the Sick Pay Guarantee will be taxpayer funded during its trial phase, the Victorian Government has stated that any ongoing scheme will be funded by an industry levy.

This article was written with the assistance of and Nate Cheng, Law Graduate.

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