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Estimates: Question on funding sick leave for casuals

In Estimates hearings on Wednesday 9 December 2020, I asked if the government would consider funding sick leave for casual workers.

You can read the answer below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

Mr BERKMAN: Minister, this pandemic has underlined for us how the rise of insecure work can not only produce unfair outcomes but be dangerous given that those workers do not have sick leave. Will the government consider following the Victorian government’s example by creating a right to sick leave for casuals funded by an industry levy on big employers such as Coles and Woolworths?

Ms GRACE: Thank you, member for Maiwar, for the question. Obviously we control public servant workers in the Public Service. The private sector is under the federal jurisdiction. Each employer can obviously take whatever means they wish to ensure that their workers can take their sick leave or whatever they wish to do. Under the state system, as you know, late last year I think there were two bills about security of employment for public sector workers converting to permanent. Following reviews into this, we brought in legislation which I administered on behalf of the Premier who brought the bills to the House. They were two very significant bills with regards to creating greater permanency within the public sector. We will be looking at that but, of course, it is a different environment in the public sector to some of the private sector where sometimes these people have to have more than one job, and often it is truly on an as and when required basis. We believe that permanency should be the basis of employment from the start. The legislation now brings that in, and we are looking forward to implementing this during this term of government. Thank you for the question.

Mr BERKMAN: In relation, though, to the Victorian approach, these moves being made in Victoria in relation to casual private sector employees, where they are setting up a novel and very worthwhile scheme to ensure that sick leave entitlements are made available to some of those private sector casuals—just to be clear, is that something you are not considering?

Ms GRACE: I not sure exactly. I think this is about liaising with those employers. We know there is a bill before the house at the moment that deals with casual workers. COVID-19 has really had a focus on that. It can be very dangerous not only for those particular workers but for the community at large when people have to work in more than one location just to put food on the table. We need to have a look at the bill and what it is proposing. As I said, I have not been formally consulted in relation to that. We have just been through an election. We have been in caretaker mode for quite some time. This is very new. It only just happened. Let us look at the bill and at what is happening. If employers want to give sick leave to casuals, nothing is stopping them doing anything above the award. I would welcome any private sector employer doing that at any point in time. They do not need me to let them do it.

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