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New sick leave guarantee requires employers to double-fund leave for casuals

Over the weekend, the Victorian Premier launched the Sick Leave Guarantee, a program designed to provide new dedicated sick and carers leave entitlements for casual and contract workers. Initially government-funded for two years, it is intended the Guarantee will eventually be subsidised through a levy on employers.

“While RCSA appreciates the intent of the program, we have serious concerns about a longer-term policy that requires employers to double-fund sick and carers leave for casual employees via a new employer tax,” explained RCSA CEO, Charles Cameron.

“The approach in the Victorian Sick Pay Guarantee Pilot continues to ignore the fact that casual employees already receive payment, on top of their wage, for sick and carers leave.”

All casual employees receive a loading, which is a percentage paid on top of their wage, in lieu of sick, annual and carer’s leave. While the process might differ for permanent employees – where workers receive a base salary and access paid sick leave as they work – both casual and permanent employees already receive paid sick leave entitlements.

“Businesses in Victoria are still reeling from the impacts of the extended lockdown. Now more than ever, they need access to a workforce that can help them flex up, down and across to pivot in line with new business opportunities. What they do not need is a new employer tax, and especially not one that they already pay for.”

“If the Victorian government wish to make changes to the way casual employees access their existing paid sick and carers leave entitlements, there are many solutions that could be developed collaboratively with employers, rather than imposing a new tax on business with no consideration of existing employee entitlements,” stated Cameron.

“In our submission to the initial consultation, RCSA made it clear that we are happy to work with this Government, and others, to develop innovative programs that enhance options available to casual employees for managing and accessing their existing sick and carers leave entitlements.”

“But this is a scheme developed without genuine collaboration with employer groups and the impact of what is in practice a government-enforced double-payment of leave entitlements will ultimately cost Victorian jobs.”

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