From today, employees can contact the Australian Government Emergency Information line on 180-22-66 to make a claim for a Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.
Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters is encouraging Central Victorians to access the payment if they need to stay home from work, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and further restrictions on the region.
“From midnight tonight our region will be under Stage 3 restrictions. Access to this payment could stop us from having to move to stage four restrictions if people know that they don’t have to go into work while sick,” Chesters said.
“One of the biggest threats to public health and national security is community transmission in the workplace.
“Everyone needs to be able to self-isolate in the event they are unwell, have been exposed to someone with the virus, are awaiting the results of a COVID test or who have tested positive.
“Sadly, due to their employment arrangements, too many workers in Australia lack even the most basic workplace entitlements – including access to paid sick leave.
“This includes casual workers, gig workers, contractors, sole traders, freelancers and many labour hire employees.”
Many of these workers are low paid and working at the frontline of the crisis; for example, in aged care, hospital and health facilities, and essential retail.
In the case of aged care and people with disabilities, these are some of our most vulnerable communities.
“No worker in Australia should be forced to make a choice between not being able to pay their bills or going to work unwell and risking the health of work colleagues, patients, customers or themselves,” Chesters said.
In Victoria, it’s been estimated that about 80 per cent of the state's new infections since mid-May have been driven by transmission in workplaces.
“A universal paid pandemic leave scheme could have prevented some of this terrible toll.
“We need paid pandemic leave to be available across Australia, not just for one state.”
Labor is calling for the Morrison Government to act now to implement a paid pandemic leave scheme for all workers across Australia.
It should have been introduced months ago.