Removal of COVID -19 Payments and Isolation Requirements

PA is extremely concerned about the impact that removing COVID-19 isolation requirements and associated income support will have on workers and the broader community.

COVID-19 remains a significant risk to the health and wellbeing of Australians. Although the recent wave has receded, we are likely to see further waves and variants that will cause serious illness.

If action is not taken now to reduce these waves, we will once again see significant pressure placed on frontline workers in the health and care sectors, including PA’s pharmacist members and the vulnerable Australians they care for.

We remind employers that the removal of public health orders and income support does not change employer obligations under our health and safety laws to ensure workplaces are healthy and safe and that any risks to health and safety must be addressed.

Employers must ensure that workers who contract COVID-19 are not forced to attend work and are financially supported to isolate safely and recover from the illness.

Employers must also work with workers and their unions to ensure that appropriate health and safety measures are in place to deal with COVID-19.

The pandemic has also demonstrated the risk to public health that has been caused by the erosion of paid sick leave entitlements across the workforce, especially as a result of insecure work.

PA’s workplace advice and support area reports that many individual members have exhausted their sick leave entitlements as a result of repeat infections within their households. Others who have commenced in new roles do not have much accrued sick leave and those who are engaged as casual workers do not receive sick leave at all.

PA and other unions have campaigned for and won paid pandemic leave across thousands of unionised workplaces across the country. We will continue to do so to ensure work is safe and that workers have paid leave so they can stay at home if they contract COVID.

We call on the Albanese Government to work with unions, employers and the community to ensure workplaces are prepared for future waves of COVID -19 and ensure we have policies and practices in place that minimise the risks of COVID to our community in the future.