The Morrison government can use the extensive coronavirus crisis powers already granted to it by Parliament to immediately grant paid COVID-19 sick leave to workers across Australia, according to advice obtained by the Australian Greens, without Parliament having to sit. The Treasurer could grant the leave by issuing regulations, similarly to the way the JobKeeper scheme was established. The advice was provided by the Parliamentary Library.
Given the high number of workplace-related transmissions in Victoria and the risk of further outbreaks in other states, the Greens are calling on the Morrison government to either pass a Greens’ bill currently before the Senate granting 14 days paid COVID-19 leave or use existing powers to immediately issue regulations granting paid COVID-19 leave. The Greens introduced their bill to the Senate on 12 May and were the first party to call for paid pandemic leave.
Quotes attributable to Greens Leader, Adam Bandt:
“Insecure work is fuelling this health crisis.”
“Over 3 million workers have no entitlement to paid sick leave and people are being financially forced to come to work sick or while waiting for test results.”
“No-one should have to come to work sick in the middle of a pandemic because they are worried about losing income.”
“Paid COVID-19 leave won’t just help workers and their families stay healthy, it will help stop the spread of this deadly virus.”
“Scott Morrison has no more excuses. Lives are at stake. He must either pass the Greens’ bill to grant paid coronavirus sick leave when Parliament resumes or immediately issues regulations to the same effect.”
“With so many infections connected to workplaces, paid pandemic leave would help with the huge challenge in Victoria and help prevent outbreaks in other states.”
“The government should help employers meet the cost of paid coronavirus leave, perhaps from the multi-billion dollar JobKeeper underspend. It would be money well spent,” Bandt said.