Unexpectedly, on Monday the 14th of March 2022 the Victorian State Government announced a 2 year trial of paid sick leave for (some) casual employees and the self-employed. Essentially, eligible workers will receive 5 days (38 hours) of paid sick and carers leave in a 12 month period, funded by the taxpayer.
Largely unpublished , is that self-employed people can also be eligible, and we’d like to highlight they they can be eligible under this program.
We saw through COVID-19 that rushed programs from the State Government had many issues, were confusing, and the guidelines were inconsistent and in general poorly written.
During COVID, we could understand these issues, but there are no excues for this now…
It’s early days, but this appears to be another one where the focus has been on the sizzle and not the sausage. Be patient, because there are going to be many teething problems that will effect both employees and employers.
WHAT HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED
As the summary outlines, the program provides guaranteed sick pay for casual staff and self employed people in certain jobs. The eligible occupations include:
- Food preparation;
- Food trades;
- Sales assistants;
- Supermarket workers;
- Cleaners; and
- Security guards.
Eligible people will be eligible to claim up to 38 hours of sick or carers leave across a 12 month period. All payments will be at the minimum wage rate, which is currently $20.33 per hour.
REGISTER, OR NOT TO REGISTER?
Parts of the guidelines suggest that you need to register for the program before you take time off work, and other parts seem to completely ignore this. We’d love to tell you which is correct, but the Government has provided us with no information other than the contradictory information that is on their website.
All we can suggest is calling the phone number detailed (1800 979 641) and asking the Government staff to provide you with answers while we wait for the Government to put a little more meat on the bones of their work.
According to the guidelines, you need to:
- Be 15 or older;
- Be a casual employee or self employed (i.e. a sole trader with an ABN) and in one of the eligible occupations;
- Work in Victoria (and be legally allowed to do so);
- Work on average 7.6 hours per week in an eligible occupation;
- Not receive any (or be eligible for any) other employment related payments during the period you are claiming sick leave for – this includes sick pay from other employers;
- Not receive any (or be eligible for any) Government assistance relating to work, such as JobSeeker, COVID-19 payments, Pandemic leave, WorkCover, etc;
- Be claiming for at least 3 hours per day; and
- Make a claim within 60 days of missing work.
Interestingly, actually being unwell or caring for someone isn’t high on the Government’s list, not being detailed as a requirement until later in the guidelines. Additionally, if you are claiming for less than 15 hours at a time, you just need to be able to sign a statutory declaration saying you were unwell or caring for someone.
In order to make a claim, you need to be able to show:
- Who you are (birth certificate, drivers license, etc);
- That you are a casual employee (letter of offer, payslips, etc) OR that you are self employed (ABN details, invoices issued, etc) in one of the listed occupations;
- That you had work scheduled at the time you are declaring you were unwell or caring for someone unwell; and
- That you were actually unwell of caring for someone unwell (medical certificate, etc) where you are making a claim for more than 15 hours.
HOW TO CLAIM
To make a claim, simply head to the homepage of the scheme – https://www.vic.gov.au/sick-pay-guarantee and click on the “Apply and claim now” button.
However… at the time of writing, this loaded a page with no information, no forms, no links, nothing. We trust that the Government will rectify this shortly, but unfortunately this means we can’t tell you what happens from there.
Employers can breathe a sigh of relief. The only time employers need to get involved is when employees need a copy of documents like payslips, offers or work, etc, and should the Government get in contact to confirm details.