Victoria’s sick pay trial not federal Labor policy, Burke says

Labor’s industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke says the Victorian government’s sick pay for casuals trial is not a policy their federal counterparts will take to the election.

Labor Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday unveiled a two-year pilot to offer sick and carer’s leave at the national minimum wage to about 150,000 casual and contract workers in hospitality, retail, and other sectors to boost job security, a mantra the federal opposition is campaigning on.

Labor’s industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke says Victoria’s sick pay trial is not a federal policy.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

While he praised the trial, Mr Burke told Sky News on Tuesday it was not policy for federal Labor.

“It’s not our policy, we’re not taking it to the election. It’s a trial that’s going to go for two years … They don’t know whether they’ll lock into it or where it’ll go,” he said. “They are dealing with the right problem.”

Labor and the union movement are campaigning on job security in the lead-up to the election, arguing low unemployment figures spruiked by the government do not factor in underemployment and power imbalance between employers and workers, who endure low wage-growth.

The opposition says that, if it wins the election, it will criminalise wage theft, make job security an object of the Fair Work Act, and empower the Fair Work Commission to provide greater protections to gig economy workers, among other policies.

Federal Industrial Relations Minister Michaelia Cash described Victoria’s pilot program as a “tax on jobs and a handbrake on our economy”.

It also drew criticism from the Victorian opposition and business groups.

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