The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) applauds the Andrews Government’s launch of the Sick Pay Guarantee scheme for casual and contract workers.
This is a case where a good and responsible government has stepped up where the Commonwealth and many employers have failed to do so.
For many casual workers, one shift can mean the difference between being able to put food on the table or affording this month’s rent.
The scheme which guarantees five days leave paid at minimum wage will go a long way to supporting the financial security of some of Victoria’s most vulnerable workers.
Casuals haven’t always been without some form of paid leave entitlements.
Up until 2010 casuals in Victoria working regular shifts in the retail sector were entitled to paid sick leave.
This entitlement should never have been withdrawn and may well have contributed to the increasing casualisation of Australia’s workforce, a development which has not only left many lower paid workers in increasingly precarious employment, but has also contributed to the significant spread of transmissible viruses like the Flu and COVID-19.
The disadvantages of being a casual exceed the extra they earn per hour.
Aside from not receiving paid leave entitlements, casual workers are also subjected to unpredictable working hours, unpredictable earnings and dismissal from work without notice as well as difficulties accessing credit or mortgages.
As the union for workers in retail, supermarkets, fast food and warehousing the SDA represents thousands of members in insecure work who will benefit from this pilot scheme.
Quotes attributable to Ciaran O’dwyer, SDA member and young supermarket worker:
“The last two years have shown just how difficult it can get when you are a casual worker so I cannot stress enough how important a scheme like this is for us”
“A lot us don’t choose to be casual, so it’s just wrong that we are forced to choose between the safety of those we work with and being able to pay bills”
“I’m lucky that I get to live at home while I study, but I work with other casuals who don’t have that safety net and this scheme makes all the difference”
Quotes attributable to Michael Donovan, Victorian Secretary of the SDA:
“Congratulations to the Victorian Government on introducing this innovative scheme to provide paid leave to casuals.”
“Not only is it beneficial to casuals who face insecure employment, it is beneficial to their fellow workers, as casuals who stay home when sick are not infecting other workers. It is also beneficial to the community as it will reduce the risk of the spreading of illness and disease.”
“This is an important first step. But we need the Federal Government to step up to the mark and provide paid sick leave for casuals under the National Employment Standards.”
Contact: Josh McFarlane