Push for portable leave entitlement scheme

·1-min read

Casual and contract workers would be able to access portable leave across multiple jobs under a proposal to create a superannuation-style levy on business.

A new McKell Institute report on insecure work is calling for portable entitlement schemes that would allow leave such as long service and sick leave to follow workers from job to job.

Independent contractors, freelancers and casuals would be included in the plan, which is designed in part to reduce the number of people attending work while sick.

McKell Institute Victoria executive director Ryan Batchelor said 3.7 million workers had no access to paid leave, making portable entitlements crucial.

"COVID-19 has shown how vulnerable we all are when people without enough sick leave show up to work sick," he said.

He said the government could benefit through not having to pick up the bill on guaranteed entitlements when companies go bust.

"Australians are extremely comfortable with the idea of superannuation, and a portable entitlement scheme would be analogous and familiar," Mr Batchelor said.

"The pandemic has shown us the significant cost of people turning up to work when sick. Any extra costs from providing more people with sick leave pale by comparison with the costs of this pandemic on our community."

Labor leader Anthony Albanese raised portable entitlements earlier in the month with a commitment to consult with states on possible extensions of existing schemes.

Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter dismissed the idea, warning an employer levy could hit business with billions of dollars in costs.