Retailers welcome reinstatement of pandemic leave payments

| July 19, 2022

Australia’s largest peak body for retail, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), said the reinstatement of the pandemic leave disaster payment will come as a welcome relief for workers who are left out of pocket when they’re forced to isolate with Covid.

“The pandemic leave payments were a valuable measure to support people in isolation when they couldn’t work, and the timing of their removal was problematic – in the heart of winter when infections were spiking, contributing to staff shortages across the economy,” said ARA Chief Industry Affairs Officer, Fleur Brown.

“We’re pleased to see the restoration of the scheme and appreciate that emergency supports like this are not meant to last forever. The next couple of months will be challenging with daily caseloads set to remain high, so it’s appropriate this safety net remained in place. It will also reduce the risk of infected workers being at work.

“If you get Covid, that means seven days of isolation. And unfortunately for some, who are not eligible for sick leave, that means seven days of no income. We’re pleased to see the actions taken today by the federal, state and territory governments to ensure our most vulnerable workers continue to be supported.”

On Saturday 16 July 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 commence from Wednesday 20 July, with existing eligibility requirements to continue.

The costs of the payment will be shared 50:50, between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories.

In addition the Commonwealth Government will also reinstate the Crisis Payment – National Health Emergency (COVID-19) until 30 September 2022, with eligibility also to be backdated to 1 July 2022. This will ensure people affected by COVID-19 isolation requirements who receive an income support payment or ABSTUDY Living Allowance, and who are in severe financial hardship, continue to receive support through the winter period.

The Commonwealth has further agreed to create a new, temporary telehealth item so GPs can spend longer with their patients to assess their suitably for oral COVID-19 antivirals. This will enable those most vulnerable to COVID-19 to quickly access medical treatments and help ease the burden on hospitals.