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End of paid pandemic leave ‘risky and dangerous’

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The termination of pandemic leave is both “risky and dangerous” and “will hit minimum wage workers hardest”.

That’s the warning from Hunter Workers secretary Leigh Shears as the government’s Pandemic Leave Disaster Payments ended on 1 July.

He’s now urging the Albanese government to return the safety net to these vulnerable employees immediately.

“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.”

From 1 July workers without paid sick leave will still be required to isolate for seven days if they have COVID-19, are a close contact of a person who has COVID-19, or are caring for a child who is 16 years or under, or a person with a disability or severe medical condition who has COVID-19.

These workers will be expected to go without a week’s pay.

Worse still, Mr Shears says, they will show up sick to their workplace, risking spreading the virus and receiving a heavy fine.

“Leaving workers without pandemic leave payments will inevitably result in unsafe workplaces and put workers at a heightened risk,” he said.

“Australia currently has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 internationally, with 10,930 COVID-19 cases and nine deaths reported in NSW in the last 24 hours.

“We need to ensure we don’t return to the uncertain early days of the pandemic that saw COVID spreading in and across workplaces particularly given the precarious position of the economy and cost of living pressures.

“The Albanese government needs to urgently reverse this decision and support working people.”

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