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COVID-19 pandemic leave payments now on offer

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Workers testing positive to COVID-19 will have one less worry this week, after the government announced it will extend its $750 support payment.

From Wednesday 20 July, employees who are forced to isolate but do not have access to sick leave, can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.

The lump sum amount is aimed at supporting those who can’t work because they have tested positive to COVID-19, are isolating, or in quarantine, or caring for someone who has tested positive.

It is only eligible to those who cannot access sick leave through their employer. 

The decision to extend the payments was announced after cabinet met at the weekend.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said the extension of the payments would hopefully minimise the impact on the country’s health system.

“Australia is beginning to see a new wave of COVID-19 infections driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub variants, which will increase the pressure on our health system,” he said.

“In recognition of the risks associated with more infectious new variants through the winter period, the Commonwealth agreed to reinstate the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment to 30 September 2022. 

“Eligibility for the payment will be backdated to 1 July 2022, to ensure that anyone unable to work owing to isolation requirements in this period, without access to paid sick leave, is supported. 

“Access to these payments will start from Wednesday 20 July, with existing eligibility requirements to continue.”

The costs of the payment will be shared between the commonwealth and the states and territories.

How much can be claimed?

Workers who have lost eight hours of work in a seven-day period are entitled to a $450 payment.

Workers who have lost 20 hours or more of work within the same period are eligible to claim the full $750 payment.

A couple that have both lost work due to isolation, can both claim the payment but will need to complete separate claims.

Those eligible for income support payments or ABSTUDY Living Allowance are also eligible to receive the Crisis Payment – National Health Emergency (COVID-19) until 30 September 2022, with eligibility also to be backdated to 1 July 2022. 

The news follows a push from Hunter Workers’ secretary Leigh Shears as the government’s Pandemic Leave Disaster Payments ended on 1 July.

“Ending pandemic leave payments when we are still in the midst of a pandemic is a risky and dangerous decision,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“People are still dying from this virus.

“Being able to take paid time off when you are sick shouldn’t be a privilege, it should be a guarantee for all workers.”

Hunter Workers
Hunter Workers secretary Leigh Shears says the end of paid pandemic leave will hit minimum wage earners hardest – 01 JULY 2022. Photo: Rod Thompson

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