MORRISON MUST MOVE NOW ON PAID PANDEMIC LEAVE

TONY BURKE MP.
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5 days ago
MORRISON MUST MOVE NOW ON PAID PANDEMIC LEAVE
TONY BURKE MP
Scott Morrison still doesn’t understand the urgency of introducing paid pandemic leave for Australian workers.

This is a critical measure to protect workers and prevent further COVID-19 outbreaks, and it should have been introduced months ago.

It has been 141 days since Labor first called for a special leave entitlement that would allow workers to stay at home and isolate if they’re sick or suspect they have been exposed to coronavirus.

But the Prime Minister has admitted today he only asked Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter to consider the issue in “recent days”. Nearly five months later.

And even now, Mr Morrison still won’t indicate whether he supports paid pandemic leave or how long it will take before he actually acts.

There is no excuse for this delay. The Government must act immediately. It should have acted on this in March.
An estimated 80 per cent of people who have caught coronavirus in Victoria’s second wave caught it in the workplace.

Paid pandemic leave could have prevented some of this toll – and it could make a huge difference in any future outbreaks.

An estimated 3.7 million Australians don’t have any access to paid sick leave or the other protections of permanent employment, including casuals, contractors, freelancers, sole traders and gig economy workers. And many permanent workers have exhausted their sick leave entitlements.

Without pandemic leave, many will continue to turn up to work when they’re sick or should be isolating.

Workers cannot be forced to choose between paying their bills and protecting their colleagues, customers and patients.

Early in this crisis, Mr Porter made comments suggesting casuals didn’t need paid leave because they had already put money aside in case of a global pandemic: "Many people would have already made provisions for that because of course the purpose of casual employment is that you're paid extra in lieu of entitlements” – Porter, ABC News, 10 March.

He also said the Government will not “jump to a solution in anticipation of a problem” on pandemic leave.

Those were incredibly out-of-touch and short-sighted comments – and it’s even more incredible that it’s taken this long for him to realise it.

Labor welcomed the recent Fair Work Commission decision to grant paid pandemic leave to some aged care workers.

But this needs to go much further. All workers should have access to paid pandemic leave if they need it.

The Morrison Government needs to make this happen.
Employment