Casuals can check out to deal with virus

Paul Osborne
Woolworths has expanded leave guidelines for staff required to take time off due to the coronavirus

Australia's largest private employer says it will help its casual workers impacted by the coronavirus.

Woolworths staff required to be absent from work due to coronavirus won't be disadvantaged if they are casually employed or have run out of personal/carer's leave, the grocery giant says.

Under new company guidelines, this will apply for staff absent due to their own self-isolation, illness or need to care for others.

If their 10 days of personal/carer's leave has been used up, Woolworths will pay what would apply if the staffer were on personal/carer's leave, for a maximum of two weeks.

Woolworths' casual workforce of about 55,000, who are not entitled to personal/carer's leave, will be paid based on their upcoming two-week roster for time they are required to take off due to the coronavirus.

Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter welcomed the move, along with similar announcements from Telstra and Commonwealth Bank.

"This is exactly the sort of response Australians expect from our larger companies," he said on Thursday.

"It is the sort of flexible response from the business sector that is best for their people and for their businesses."

Mr Porter said more companies were likely to follow suit.

"Although details are to still be provided we have also seen a similar commitment from a major player in the gig economy - Uber," he said.

Woolworths Group chief people officer Caryn Katsikogianis said the company recognised it had a key role to play as part of the broader public health response.

"We've made it clear to our team that we'll look after anyone impacted by the outbreak whether they're full-time, part-time or casual," she said.

"This is not only the right thing to do by those team members but also an important measure to ensure everybody in our business takes appropriate action in response to public health advice."