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Victoria to trial paid sick leave for casual employees and sole traders


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced details of a pilot program to provide casual workers and sole traders with up to five days’ personal/carers leave per year. The program has already commenced and is originally set to last two years and cost the Victorian government $245 million.

Mr Andrews states the scheme is intended to tackle the “toxic” nature of casual and insecure work. Mr Andrews said he hopes that the scheme influences the National Government to offer sick leave to casual employees. Currently, the National Employment Standards of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) only provides paid personal/carers leave for permanent and part-time employees. This is due to casual employees already receiving a 25% casual loading under modern awards to compensate for not receiving paid personal/carer’s leave and other paid permanent entitlements.

Mr Andrews detailed in a press conference his plan to offer personal/carer’s leave at the national minimum wage ($20.33 per hour) to casual employees and sole traders in the hospitality, retail, aged and disability care, cleaning and security industries. It is expected this will affect about 150,000 casual employees in Victoria.

The finer points of the scheme are:

  • Casual Employees will be entitled to 5 days leave at the national minimum wage and still be eligible to receive their 25% casual loading
  • Employees/sole traders seeking leave must apply through the Service Victoria website
  • Casual employees under the age of 18 can apply with parental permission.
  • The 5 days per year will not accrue from year to year if unused
  • Only certain industries as listed above are covered by the first phase proposed scheme, more industries may be added at a later date
  • Employees/sole traders must work an average of 7.6 hours or more each week in Victoria
  • Employees/sole traders must supply a medical certificate to Service Victoria if the leave is more than 15 hours

The initial cost of the scheme will be funded by the Victorian Government and then it could be funded by a levy to businesses. Federal Industrial Relations Minister the Hon Michaelia Cash stated that Mr Andrews needs to detail how much tax Victorian businesses will need to pay to cover the scheme.

What do employers in Victoria need to do?

During the pilot, employees/sole traders are to apply for sick leave directly from the Victorian Government Services Website. To apply for the payment, the employee needs to provide a letter or email from their employer, stating that the employee did in fact miss a shift. An employer is not required to witness a medical certificate, medical certificates are provided directly to Service Victoria.

Other things the employee needs to provide are payslips, a signed letter of offer and a current employment contract. Sole traders need to provide such documents as business activity statement, latest PAYG summary, ASIC or ABR registration, an invoice showing business name and ABN.

It does not appear, beyond providing the letter or email, that employers need to do anything to pay their employees for the time they have been off. This may change in the future, and we recommend keeping on top of any additional requirements that may arise from this new entitlement. We further recommend checking your casual employee contracts and any opportunities for casual conversion to permanent employment.

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