Paid pandemic ‘leave’ not enough & won’t properly support health effort

The Australian Greens MPs

Scott Morrison’s pandemic payment announcement is a poor substitute for sick leave and doesn’t properly support the public health push to contain the coronavirus, said Greens Leader, Adam Bandt.

“Workers can only get this watered-down payment if they’ve been ordered to stay at home, so it won’t cover people who are experiencing symptoms but haven’t yet visited a doctor,” said Mr Bandt.

“The unwillingness to provide a simple across-the-board pandemic leave entitlement at a worker’s normal rate of pay is pointless penny pinching and it doesn’t give us the best chance to beat this virus.”

“People without leave entitlements who are feeling even the slightest bit sick should be encouraged to stay at home and not come to work. They shouldn’t have to wait for an instruction from a health official to get financial support.”

“Also, because this isn’t a true leave entitlement applying across the country, workers without sick leave outside of Victoria will still face the financial pressure of coming in to work while sick or awaiting test results.”

“We shouldn’t be waiting for a state of disaster until we tell people they can stay home when they’re sick.”

“Pandemic leave should also be about outbreak prevention. Waiting until there is a state of disaster before having access risks fueling the spread until an official announcement.

“We’ve seen unions, community groups and health experts join the calls for this vital measure for months. This is a belated and over-complicated response to those calls.

“The decades-long, intentional erosion of worker’s rights like sick leave, must be reversed. It has driven inequality and in the context of Covid is a threat to public safety. The various caveats in this scheme have an ideological flavor that should have no place in a pandemic response,” Bandt said.

The Greens announced legislation for national paid pandemic leave in March and today produced advice that there was no barrier for the Treasurer to bring in paid pandemic leave without legislation or appropriations bill,” Bandt said

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