Unions in Australia are urging the federal government to reinstate the country's pandemic leave disaster payment for frontline workers, various media sources have reported. The pay, which ended on June 30, has negatively affected the aforementioned workers as the pandemic still persists in not just Australia but all over the world.
The pandemic leave disaster payment is a lump sum payment to help people under isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19 when they cannot work and earn income.
Though the deadline ended, the government clarified that individuals may still qualify for the payment if their isolation period began on or before its expiry.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has also said in a statement that the decision to end the payment will force employees to report to work even if they are unwell.
ACTU president Michele O'Neil, said, "This decision will result in workers working while they are sick, which we have known since the first days of the pandemic is a certain way to more rapidly spread the virus and put more people at risk. It will also leave working people without paid leave to look after children or family members who are sick and need care."
She also added that the Albanese Government should not ignore the lessons that the country has learnt since the start of the pandemic and instead, should reverse the decision as soon as possible.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), the country's largest union, is also calling on the government to reverse its decision to scrap the leave disaster payments.
Annie Butler, ANMF federal secretary, said the payments need to remain to allow people to follow public health orders and stay in isolation if they contract COVID-19.
Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler recently addressed the calls in a radio interview saying the end of the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payments is "another of a series of emergency measures that were due to expire on the 30th of June."
"We've got a trillion dollars of debt which is simply not the financial capacity to continue to fund these emergency measures forever. We've looked at this closely. State governments, employers and the general community had quite a deal of notice from late last year that this extraordinary emergency measure was going to expire on the 30th of June,” he added.