Listen Up Baristas & Retail Assistants: Here’s How The Vic Govt’s Sick Leave Trial Will Work

The Victorian government will offer paid sick leave to casual and contract workers in a two-year pilot scheme. Premier Dan Andrews announced the two-year trial of the “Victorian Sick Pay Guarantee”, which is the first of its kind in Australia.

For any casual worker who has dragged themselves to their shift because they can’t afford to take a day off (hello, everyone), getting paid sick leave is a welcome change to the way casual work currently operates.

So here’s how it all works.

How much paid sick leave will casual workers get?

The scheme will offer five days (or 38 hours) sick or carer’s leave pay to eligible workers at the national minimum wage. That’s currently $20.33 an hour, meaning workers can claim a total of $772.54 of paid sick/carer’s leave of the course of 12 months.

What can I use sick/carer’s leave for?

You can take this leave if you are unwell. You can also take leave to care for immediate family or members of your household, including:

  • spouse or former spouse
  • de facto partner or former de facto partner
  • child
  • parent
  • grandparent
  • grandchild
  • sibling, or
  • child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of your spouse or de facto partner (or former spouse or de facto partner).

Who is eligible for sick leave in Victoria?

The trial will be run for workers in industries that have large proportions of casual or contract workers. This broadly includes:

  • Hospitality workers
  • Food trades workers and food preparation assistants
  • Supermarket workers
  • Retail and sales assistants
  • Aged and disability care workers
  • Cleaners and laundry workers
  • Security guards

A more exhaustive list of jobs within these industries can be found on the Vic Gov’s official site.

The scheme is open for casual workers over the age of 15 — with parental consent required for those under 18 — and self-employed workers with no other employees, such as sole traders and independent contractors.

This sick leave only applies to you if you’re not entitled to sick leave in any of your other jobs.

Obviously, it’s only open to people who work in Victoria. If you live in NSW but your place of work is in Victoria, for example, you’re still eligible.

According to the Victorian government, around 150,000 workers across these industries are now eligible for sick leave.

When does the paid sick leave scheme start?

The scheme went live on Monday and will run from now until 2024.

Who is funding the scheme?

The two-year paid sick leave trial will cost $$245.6 million, per the ABC, and will be funded by taxpayers. But once the two-year trial is done it could be funded via a levy applied to businesses.

Of course Federal Industrial Relations Minister Michaelia Cash decided to use the scheme to push a Federal Election agenda.

According to The Australian, she said the Victorian Government’s plan was a “sign of things to come under an Albanese Labor ­government”.

Senator Cash added: “Mr Andrews needs to explain to Victorian small and medium businesses what will happen after the initial two-year period expires and how much he will tax them to cover his scheme.

“Victorian employers should not have to pay a casual worker tax, which is nothing but a tax on jobs and a handbrake on our economy.”

Employers shouldn’t have to pay a tax that supports their workers? Hmm.

Where can I get more info?

A list of FAQs can be found on the Vic Gov website if you want to get further into the nitty gritty of the scheme.