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COSBOA CEO calls sick leave for casuals ‘absurd’

COSBOA notes with apprehension the Victorian Premier’s announcement of a $246 million trial for 150,000 Victorian casual workers to receive 5 days of paid sick leave. The Premier has explained that any continuation of the scheme would be funded by a levy on businesses, the details of which are unclear.

COSBOA CEO Alexi Boyd said “First of all, none of COSBOA’s 45 industry association members were consulted about this idea. You would think the pandemic experience had taught us all the value of consulting with affected stakeholders before making announcements to the media and general public.”

Ms Boyd continued “The idea of giving casuals sick leave is naive and shows a lack of understanding for how the system works. Casuals are already paid 25% more than permanent staff to compensate for the lack of entitlements like annual leave and personal/carers leave (sick leave).

“Providing casuals paid sick leave is double dipping and disadvantages permanent part-time staff who would have the same entitlements but lower wages. It could even incentivise casual staff not to take up offers for permanent work, requiring employers to pay the casual loading as well as the new Victorian government ‘levy’ to fund sick leave.”

“It is also unclear how such a levy would work. State governments are unable to access payroll data – how will the Victorian Government know how many casuals are employed in a particular business? Or will the levy not actually be based on how many casuals are employed? What about those businesses who switch between casual and permanent part-time staff?”

Ms Boyd added “It’s awful that there are casual employees who can’t afford to take a day off even though they are paid higher wages to compensate for the lack of sick leave. However, that speaks to a much broader problem regarding the cost of living. The solution for that isn’t to punish small businesses with another payroll levy.”

“COSBOA and its members would welcome discussion on an appropriate system that supports both employers and employees to address the issue.”

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