Casual hairdressers, rideshare drivers, and fitness instructors in Victoria can now benefit from a government-funded sick pay program. The program, which launched in March 2022, aims to address the lack of sick leave entitlements for casual workers, particularly in light of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns in Victoria.
To bridge this gap, the Australian state government has expanded the program to include more occupations. Community support workers, taxi and rideshare drivers, fitness instructors, tourism and outdoor recreation workers, factory workers, fruit pickers, and hairdressers are among the new beneficiaries.
Ben Carroll, the state’s employment minister, emphasized the importance of supporting casual workers, stating that they should never have to choose between working while sick and going without pay. Through the Service Victoria app, casual workers can check their eligibility for the program. If eligible, they can receive up to 38 hours of sick and carer pay per year, paid at the minimum wage rate of $23.23 per hour.
Carroll highlighted that the scheme, which has been allocated $245.7 million, provides financial security to workers, allowing them to stay home when necessary. Since its inception, the program has already covered over 1.8 million hours of sick and carer’s pay.
In addition to expanding the coverage of the program, the government has also extended its pilot duration until March 2025. Although initial uptake was slow, Carroll confirmed that the government is committed to finding a long-term funding solution and has not ruled out the possibility of implementing a tax or levy on businesses.
The expanded program aims to alleviate the challenges faced by casual workers in Victoria and provide them with the support and security they need during times of illness or caregiving responsibilities.