New entitlement to paid sick leave for casual employees 

Last month, the Victorian Government introduced a pilot scheme providing paid sick and carer’s leave entitlements to eligible casual employees and contract workers in Victoria. This represents a significant shift in the treatment of casual employees, who are required to be paid a casual loading on top of their base rate of pay in lieu of receiving paid sick/personal leave and other permanent employment entitlements. 

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for the Victorian Sick Pay Guarantee, a casual employee must satisfy all of the following criteria: 

  • be at least 15 years of age; 
  • have no entitlement to paid sick or carer’s leave in any job; 
  • have the right to work in Australia; 
  • work physically in Victoria; 
  • on average, work at least 7.6 hours per week in an eligible occupation (see below). 

The first phase of the Sick Pay Guarantee pilot scheme is limited to casuals in those industries which the Victorian Government considers to have the most insecure work – including hospitality, food preparation, food trades, supermarket, retail, aged and disability care, cleaning services and security. 

What is the amount of the new entitlement? 

Eligible casual employees are permitted to claim a maximum of 38 hours per year as either sick or carer’s pay at the national minimum wage. The scheme allows eligible casual employees to claim a minimum of three hours and a maximum of twelve hours of sick or carer’s pay for each working day.  

How can casuals apply? 

Eligible casual employees can apply now for the Sick Pay Guarantee. Applications are to be made online through the Victorian Government website. Claims must be submitted within 60 days of the relevant absence. 

What does this mean for Victorian employers? 

The Victorian Sick Pay Guarantee scheme requires limited involvement from employers. In particular, employers are not required to make any payments under the scheme. Instead, the pilot scheme is fully funded by the Victorian Government, with an estimated cost to taxpayers of $245.6 million over the two year period. 

Further, employers do not need to inform their casual employees of the scheme, and casual employees do not need to advise their employer if they submit a claim under the scheme. If a claim or enquiry is made to an employer about the scheme, the employer should direct the casual employee to the Victorian Government website.  

From a practical perspective, it is likely employers will only need to be involved in the scheme if casual employees request them to provide evidence of their employment in support of a claim or if the Victorian Government contacts them to verify a claim by a particular casual employee as part of a random audit. 

In news that is unlikely to be well received by employers, the Victorian Government has indicated that should the scheme be implemented on a permanent basis it will be funded through a new business levy. 

Queries

For further information regarding the above, please contact Martin Alden, Partner at m.alden@cornwalls.com.au, Marcus Di Blasio, Associate at m.diblasio@cornwalls.com.au, or any member of our Employment, Workplace Relations & Safety team.

Disclaimer

This information and the contents of this publication, current as at the date of publication, is general in nature to offer assistance to Cornwalls’ clients, prospective clients and stakeholders, and is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal or financial advice. If you are concerned about any topic covered, we recommend that you seek your own specific legal and financial advice before taking any action.