The last thing we want is sick people turning up for work because they are casual workers with no sick leave. The fair and most sensible action the Government can take is to pay them to remain at home.
This could be done through tax concessions to their employers however if predicted lockdowns occur, casuals will be the first to lose their jobs so the net must be broader.
COVID-19 is becoming as much a social security issue as it is a health and economic risk.
The Government is phasing out the current sickness allowance on 20 March and its replacement is folded into the Newstart system but the built-in application and waiting periods take 8 weeks and more than 3 months if applicants have savings over $5,000.
Government must abandon waiting times – there is no justification for this – increase the Newstart allowance and reduce the onerous and largely impossible hoops those on Newstart must jump through, at least until this pandemic is over.
Here are the stats on casual workers with no paid sick leave:
- 24.4% of all Australian workers
- 62% of those in accommodation and food services – sectors most heavily affected by the downturn in tourism and eating out
- 40.2% in arts and recreation
- 39% in agriculture, forestry and fishing
- 37% in retail trade
- In all 17 sectors have more than 10% of their workforce in casual employment
Thanks to The Conversation and authors Professor Peter Whiteford and Associate Professor Bruce Bradbury for this article.