Paid pandemic leave for all Australians
“Paid pandemic leave is a crucial public health measure that provides a circuit breaker to stem the rate of transmission by allowing those with symptoms to stay home without losing income," said Sally McManus, secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).
The ACTU is lobbying for paid pandemic leave to be in addition to any other leave entitlement, available to all working people and funded by the commonwealth. That would allow workers to get tested and isolate when they need to.
Ms McManus said, “the problem of workers having no leave goes beyond the aged care sector. No worker should be left considering if they should go to work with mild symptoms to pay the bills. Having paid pandemic leave across Australia should stop the workplace transmission of the virus.
The Federal Government is working with the ACTU to identify data that supports workplace absences contribute to a lack of financial support and workplace transmission of COVID-19. The FWC may consider similar paid pandemic provisions to the aged care worker award.
“We must take away all disincentives to isolate to get the virus under control. A huge proportion of transmission is happening in workplaces, so it is essential that we facilitate workers staying home when they need to, so that can get tested and isolate,” McManus added.
Paid pandemic leave approved for health care
The FWC recently decided to grant paid pandemic leave in three modern awards of Aged Care, Health Professionals and Nurses Awards with the exclusion of casual workers with irregular hours.
The FWC found there had been a significant deterioration in the position with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in Victoria’s new daily cases.
From 29 July 2020, the paid pandemic leave will apply for three months. On each occasion of self-isolation, an aged care worker who is either experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or come into close contact with someone who may have COVID-19 will be provided with a maximum of two weeks' paid leave.