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Hunter Workers calls for reinstatement of pandemic leave payments

1 July 2022


The Health Minister Mark Butler has announced today that emergency pandemic leave payments will end, a decision that will hit insecure and minimum wage workers hardest.

Workers without paid sick leave are still required to isolate for seven days and will now be forced to go without a week’s pay or show up sick, risking spreading the virus and receiving a heavy fine.

It is vital the Albanese government returns a safety net to these workers urgently.

Leaving workers without pandemic leave payments will inevitably result in unsafe workplaces and put workers at a heightened risk.

Australia currently has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 internationally, with 10,930 COVID-19 cases and 9 deaths reported in NSW in the last 24 hours.

The pandemic leave payment was instated earlier in the pandemic after Unions lobbied the Morrison government to provide support for workers.

The payments were available to COVID-19-infected workers without access to sick leave, close contacts of someone with COVID, and carers of a child or person with a disability who is isolating.

Leigh Shears, Hunter Workers Secretary:

“Ending pandemic leave payments when we are still in the midst of a pandemic is a risky and dangerous decision.

People are still dying from this virus.

Being able to take paid time off when you are sick shouldn’t be a privilege, it should be a guarantee for all workers.

We need to ensure we don’t return to the uncertain early days of the pandemic that saw COVID spreading in and across workplaces particularly given the precarious position of the economy and cost of living pressures.

The Albanese Government needs to urgently reverse this decision and support working people.”

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