Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a $1,500 disaster payment for employees required to self-isolate for 14 days in Victoria. The payment is not made by the employer and does not affect Jobkeeper payments.
The Prime Minister has announced that the Federal government will be providing a pandemic leave disaster payment to Victorian employees who are required to self-isolate for 14 days due to COVID-19 and have no access to other compensation (such as personal leave or Jobkeeper payments).
The specific criteria for eligibility was announced to be modelled on the current Victorian government criteria for pandemic leave.2 The effect will be that the Victorian government payments will be made largely to eligible short-term visa holders while the Commonwealth will be making payments for Australian residents and citizens.
The Prime Minister has indicated that the services for these payments will commence for affected Victorians on Wednesday, 5 August 2020. The Prime Minister has also indicated that if other states or territories end up in a ‘disaster’ of the same scale as Victoria, a similar payment may be made available to employees in those states/territories.
What does this Mean for Us?
Unlike Jobkeeper payments, these government payments appear to be direct to affected employees without involvement of the employer. However, Victorian employers may wish to keep informed about information on these payments so they can direct their affected employees to the appropriate body, if needed.
The payment is only available for employees with no access to Jobkeeper or paid leave. Therefore, they do not affect an employer’s obligations to make payments to Jobkeeper-eligible employees, or an employee’s entitlement to other forms of leave.
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1 ‘Press Conference’, Prime Minister of Australia (Transcript, 3 August 2020) <https://www.pm.gov.au/media/press-conference-australian-parliament-house-act-3aug20>.
2 See ‘$1500 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Worker Support Payment’, Department of Health and Human Services (Vic) (Web Page, 31 July 2020) <https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/1500-coronavirus-covid-19-worker-support-payment>.