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ScoMo has announced a paid pandemic leave, here’s what you need to know

Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a press conference on Monday announcing a new scheme to help manage the surging second wave of coronavirus in Victoria which is predicted to spill into other states in oncoming weeks.

Speaking in Canberra, Morrison revealed a new “paid pandemic leave”, which apparently will see the government handing out 1,500 AUD for 2 weeks off work. So, what it is, who is it for, and how do you access it?

Victoria retail

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a paid pandemic leave of $1,500 for workers who have to go into 2 weeks of isolation.

At the moment, Victoria’s cases are at an all-time and steadily rising high. Yesterday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that the state had clocked up 439 cases overnight with 11 new deaths, and it looks like there’ll be a further 725 cases announced today.

Andrews has attributed much of this community transition to workplace mingling, as those who are getting tested and suffering symptoms are not taking the necessary time off work. As much as that sucks, with Victoria entering stage 4 lockdown this week, you can’t blame people for rocking up at work sick because they can’t risk losing their jobs or else they might find themselves unable to afford food.

In order to combat this, ScoMo has announced this new supplement, which is sort of just an extension of the Victorian paid pandemic leave announced a couple of weeks ago. Basically, it means that the Government will be handing out $1,500 payouts to those who are told to take 2 weeks off work for isolation; whether that’s because they came into contact, went to a hotspot or are diagnosed themselves.

“What we’re dealing with here is a disaster and we need to respond on the basis of the why we provide support in the midst of disasters. This pandemic is a disaster,” said Morrison.

“We need a disaster payment when it comes for people who have to isolate for a period of 14 days through no fault of their own, regardless of what their job or employment status is, they need that support.

Not only is this just a really good idea overall, but it also catches those who have missed out on other government subsidies like JobKeeper and JobSeeker; most notably, a lot of the casual workforce and non-permanent Australian citizens working in Australia.

Also, unlike JobKeeper and JobSeeker, which are set to lower its payouts in September, this paid pandemic leave is in place as long as disaster status is applied by state leaders – meaning Victorians are eligible for at least the next six weeks. However, this catch also means that Victorians are currently the only people able to access the payment, as it’s the only area which has enacted a state of disaster.

However, according to the Canberra Times, Morrison alleged this morning on Seven’s Sunrise that he would “make the offer” to the other states and territories – we’ll keep you updated on that one.

Much like the scheme we’ve seen in Victoria already, the payment is only available to those who have been ordered to self-isolate as a result of either having a positive coronavirus case or identified as being in close contact to one. This means that if you just want to go into voluntary iso without being asked, you won’t be covered by this payment.

Rather than receiving payment through their employer as per Victoria’s current arrangement, trade union secretary Sally McManus says workers will have to call an 1800 phone number to apply.

Currently, there’s no news on whether the federal government will roll out a nationwide version of Victoria’s $300 payment for workers awaiting coronavirus test results. But reports predict that ScoMo may announce that if Australia’s handling of COVID-19 worsens.

ScoMo reckons this whole thing means that “for those who need to self-isolate as a result of an instruction by a public health officer, there is no economic reason for you to go to work.”

But, there is talk on Twitter that the whole thing is too little too late.