Premier Peter Gutwein will push for a federally funded paid pandemic leave scheme aimed at decreasing coronavirus risk to be rolled out in Tasmania.
The scheme – currently only available for coronavirus-riddled Victoria – is aimed at keeping workers without paid leave entitlements at home if they have coronavirus-type symptoms, rather than having them risk going to work.
Senator Whish-Wilson said more than 59,000 Tasmanian workers had no leave entitlements and the scheme would allow them to stay home if ill “without the worry that they can’t put food on the table or that they may lose their job”.
Mr Gutwein later confirmed he supported the idea and that the state government would push for it.
“We will work with the federal government on how this can be implemented in Tasmania,” he said.
Federal Labor wants a national roll-out of the scheme.
“Australia needs a universal paid pandemic leave scheme to protect workers, public health and the national economy,” Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Shadow Industrial Relations Minister Tony Burke said in a statement.
“Labor and the unions have been calling for paid pandemic leave since the start of this pandemic five months ago.
“After nearly half a year of dithering, Scott Morrison finally conceded this week that paid pandemic leave is necessary when he announced funding for Victoria.
“What he did not seem to understand is paid pandemic leave is meant to prevent outbreaks.”
The Labor pair said a national scheme was needed to prevent a repeat of the Victorian outbreak in other states.
“Workers cannot be forced to choose between paying their bills and protecting their colleagues, customers and patients,” they said.
“Whenever we force that choice on people the community is put at risk.
“Unless we get a universal scheme we will have more community transmission, leading to more outbreaks and economy-smashing lockdowns.
“We cannot afford not to do this.”