Employer groups have described the Victorian government’s plan to offer casual workers sick leave via a pilot scheme as “illogical” and something that will hinder the state’s economic recovery.
The Victorian government says it will trial the sick leave provision for casual workers at an estimated cost of $245.6 million over a two-year period.
The Victorian Sick Pay Guarantee program will be initially funded by taxpayers, but will then later 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 will be eligible under the scheme.
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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 will 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.”