The Government has resolved to continue to pay pandemic leave in certain circumstances. It is concerning that pandemic leave is continuing because it is likely to lead reform of paid leave generally i.e. for casual employees.
The snap national cabinet meeting on 16 July 2022 resulted in the reinstatement of the emergency COVID-19 Pandemic Leave Disaster Payments until 30 September 2022.
The payments were made available from 20 July 2022, backdated from July 1 2022. The payments remain at $750 for those eligible.
Payment eligibility rules include:
• If you test positive and have to isolate for seven days, if in that seven-day period, you lose more than eight hours of work or a full day’s work.
• If you have sick leave, you have to use your sick leave first before being eligible.
• If you have more than $10,000 in the bank, you’re not eligible.
• It is also available for people who need to stay home and care for a person with COVID-19, including children under 16 or a person with a disability, as well as close contacts.
• The payments will be shared 50-50 between the Commonwealth and the states and territories.
It is expected that National cabinet will continue to meet every two to three weeks until the end of September, with health experts expecting the current wave to peak in mid-August.
The federal government will also reinstate emergency crisis payments for people on youth allowance or in severe financial hardship until the end of September, and will introduce a new temporary Medicare item, covering long consultations allowing GPs to prescribe COVID-19 antivirals until the end of October.
Following national cabinet, South Australia announced it would provide 10 free RATs over a three-month period for concession-card holders, while New South Wales has already done the same. Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has announced that a virtual emergency department program will be expanded so that 600 patients a day can be treated via video conferencing tools.
Don’t hesitate to make contact with me if you are uncertain about the entitlements.
Macca, National IR Manager