The Marshall Liberal Government will introduce a Paid Pandemic Leave Scheme in South Australia, offering ‘isolation’ payments of up to $1,500 for eligible workers who are required to quarantine, or who care for someone required to quarantine, for up to 14 days following a positive COVID-19 test or as a result of a public health directive.
Under the scheme – designed to further strengthen the State’s fight against the pandemic and a potential second wave – a separate upfront ‘testing’ payment of $300 will be available for eligible workers in an identified COVID-19 cluster*, who are required to self-isolate while awaiting a coronavirus test result or as a result of a public health directive.
The $300 payment will also be available for someone who is caring for a person who meets the eligibility criteria, as listed above.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the scheme – supported by SA Health’s public health officials – would apply from 24 August 2020 and provide financial incentive for casual workers to follow public health advice and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
“The last thing we want is for any South Australian to have to make a choice between putting food on the table and protecting the community from possible infection and a potential second wave,” said Minister Wade.
“Lack of leave entitlements for workers, particularly casual workers, is considered a significant risk factor in not complying with isolation requirements. Providing pandemic leave to support cooperation is another part of the Marshall Liberal Government's strong plan to protect South Australians from COVID-19.
“We’ve seen, interstate, the serious consequences of individuals who have continued to work while showing symptoms of COVID-19 or awaiting test results – with data from Victoria indicating as many as 9 out of 10 people who later tested positive for coronavirus were not self-isolating between the onset of symptoms and getting a test.
“In New South Wales, for example, I’m advised a cluster developed as a result of an employee attending work at a restaurant over several days despite demonstrating COVID-19 symptoms and later testing positive.
“We must remain hypervigilant to continue to keep the people of South Australia safe and protected. These payments will remove the financial burden on local workers who may be required to isolate pending a COVID-19 test result, or directed into quarantine following a positive test.
“It’s expected this scheme will further protect those in our community most vulnerable to COVID-19, particularly those in residential aged care or supported disability accommodation, who are often supported by a highly-casualised workforce.”
Similar schemes are also in place in Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.
The Commonwealth part funds the Victorian scheme, due to its declared state of disaster.
Other eligibility criteria for the Paid Pandemic Leave Scheme in South Australia includes:
· Recipient must be 17 years old and over;
· Be a citizen, permanent resident or holder of necessary visa and work permits;
· Be a casual employee or full-time or part-time employee who can demonstrate they would have
ordinarily worked, and cannot as a result of the need to isolate, and has no or insufficient
entitlement to necessary paid leave;
· Is not receiving any other Australian Government payments such as JobSeeker or JobKeeper during the period of self-isolation
Individuals who are required to quarantine for 14 days (or more) due to returning from overseas or interstate would not be eligible for the payment.
People who consider they meet the eligibility criteria will be required to apply for the payment
through an online application process, to be administered by the Department for Human Services.
Confirmation of a pandemic leave payment will also be made to their employer, to provide additional surety that an employee does not return to work for the required period.
* A designated COVID-19 cluster is one notified by the Chief Public Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spurrier, or her delegate.