The announcement by the Victorian Government of a Pandemic Leave scheme which will provide desperately needed sick leave for those who do not have it shows that the Morrison Government is lagging behind the states in providing essential leave entitlements for working people.

With Queensland and Victoria now providing Pandemic leave, many people in those states without access to sick leave will be able to take time away from work if they become sick, need to be tested or need to self-isolate.

The Federal Government has a responsibility to announce a nation-wide scheme, both to show leadership and to provide leave for thousands of workers whose conditions are set at the federal level.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Assistant Secretary Liam O’Brien:

“Pandemic leave is essential to beating the virus. If people are forced to come to work when they are sick we will continue to see new waves of workplace infection.

“We congratulate the Victorian Government on this essential reform and the Queensland Government for their leadership. The Morrison Government has excellent examples to follow and we urge them to do so.

“This reform will save lives and shorten the shutdown period.

“How can we fully recover from the virus while we are still forcing workers – disproportionately women and young people – to go to work when they should stay home, get tested and protect themselves and the community?

“The Federal Government could get this done next week and we call on them to move urgently to provide universal paid pandemic leave and protect all workers and the community from further workplace transmission.”