Hospitality venue operators in Victoria have been left bewildered after the Victorian government announced that casual and contract workers will now receive sick pay guarantees.
The Victorian Sick Pay Guarantee will operate for 2 years, starting in 2022 and is fully funded by the Victorian Government.
Eligible roles for the guarantee include hospitality workers, food preparation assistants and food trades workers, and the Government expects more than 150,000 workers to be eligible in this first phase of the Victorian Sick Pay Guarantee.
Australia’s peak body for restaurants, cafes and caterers, Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA) will be making enquiries as to whether the announced $245.6 million promised by the Victorian government to cover this scheme will then fall back onto employers after the proposed two-year pilot program expires.
R&CA CEO, Mr Wes Lambert, said that industry had not been consulted on this and it left many questions that needed urgent answers.
“If casual workers are still being paid casual loading rates, why is the Victorian government topping up for sick pay? A large proportion of Victoria’s hospitality sector are casual workers, and this has been an arrangement that has been mutually beneficial to both employers and employees over a long period of time”, said Mr Lambert.
“Paying both sick leave and casual loading rates at the same time is incredibly unfair for workers that are already under part-time and full-time agreements and has further implications around the nature of flexible working arrangements which will become a bigger part of the Australian economy as time goes on.”
“It also raises questions of its compatibility with Federal government mechanisms such as the Fair Work Act. Victoria’s hospitality needs answers now,” he said.
R&CA will continue to monitor this development and seek further information from relevant Victorian government representatives.