Government moves on paid pandemic leave

The federal government will provide $1500 a fortnight in paid pandemic leave for Victorian workers who have run out of sick leave as they deal with the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the two-week “disaster payment” would be based on the model put in place by the Victorian government.

He said people could access the payment multiple times if they have to isolate more than once.

It is mainly aimed at people who are on short-term visas – those who are not permanent residents or citizens of Australia who otherwise wouldn’t have access to Commonwealth payments.

“Today is a day we are letting Victorians know that we are there to support you,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

Earlier unions and business joined forces to call for a broad, national paid pandemic leave scheme.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions and Business Council of Australia have formed a rare alliance to put pressure on the Morrison government.

The groups penned an open letter to Attorney-General Christian Porter demanding a federal scheme.

“Paid pandemic leave is now an essential public health measure that will combat the recent spike in workplace transmission in Victoria,” they said on Monday.

Labor industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke said without a universal scheme there would be more community transmission, outbreaks and economy-smashing lockdowns.

“Every day the Morrison government delays on paid pandemic leave puts Australian lives and livelihoods at risk,” he said.

Last week, the Australian Services Union renewed its push to have pandemic leave extended to disability, community services and crisis accommodation workers.

In a submission to the Fair Work Commission, ASU national secretary Robert Potter called for the extension to be made urgently.

Australian Associated Press

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