The Victorian Government has introduced an entitlement to sick and carers pay for casual employees and independent contractors working in certain industries in Victoria. The “Sick Pay Guarantee” scheme will initially be funded by the Victorian Government and will run for a two year trial.


What do employers need to do?

Not much. As explained further below, the payment will be made directly from the Government to workers. Employers will not be involved in paying for or administering the scheme (although they may need to respond to questions from the Department of Jobs, Precincts, and Regions to verify a worker’s application or as part of a randomised audit).


Should employers be concerned about the Sick Pay Guarantee scheme?

The scheme is controversial for a number of reasons.

It is usually understood that part of the reason that casual employees are entitled to a higher rate of pay than permanent employees (they receive a extra 25% “casual loading” on the minimum wages for permanent employment) is because they are not entitled to any form of paid leave (except for long service leave).

If casuals now receive payment for sick or carer’s leave, why should they still get the full casual loading? Isn’t this “double-dipping”?

A related issue is the Government has indicated that after the initial two year trial (in which the Sick Pay Guarantee is funded by the Victorian Government), that the scheme is likely to be funded through a levy on industry. If this goes ahead it will, in effect, mean that employers are paying for sick pay (albeit indirectly), as well as having to pay casual employees a casual loading.

Some observers also suggest that introducing this paid entitlement for casual employees will encourage greater absences from work (as casual employees will no longer be without pay if they take time off). This will obviously adversely affect businesses when they need to arrange cover for an absent worker.

The Sick Pay Guarantee scheme comes at a time when the rights of casual employees have already been significantly strengthened. In 2021 the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) was amended to give casual employees a right to convert to permanent employment after 12 months employment. If you are not familiar with your new obligations regarding this, please see our further guidance here.


What about employers not in Victoria?

The Sick Pay Guarantee only operates for workplaces in Victoria, although it may well be that governments in other States and Territories will come under pressure to introduce similar schemes in their jurisdictions.


How does the scheme work?

The Victorian Government will pay up to 38 hours per year of personal (“sick”) or carer’s pay to eligible workers who are absent from work either due to their own illness or injury or because of the need to care for a member of their “immediate family” or “household” (as those terms are defined in the Fair Work Act 2009).


When does the scheme start?

The scheme is live now.


Who is eligible?

To be eligible, an individual must satisfy all of the following criteria:

  • Age – be 15 years or over
  • Type of employee – be a casual employee or self-employed with no other employees (such as a sole trader or an independent contractor)
  • No other paid leave entitlements – not be entitled to paid personal, sick or carer’s leave in any job
  • No other income – The worker must be able to show that during the claim period, they did not get any other income or earnings from paid work,
  • Government payments (eg JobSeeker, Covid-19 Disaster Payment), or other payments (eg Worker’s Compensation, income protection insurance).
  • Workplace location – physically work in Victoria, no matter where they live
  • Right to work – have the right to work in Australia
  • Average hours worked – on average the employee must work at least 7.6 hours per week
  • Eligible occupation – work in one of the eligible occupations, which we have listed in full at the end of this article. In brief these include most types of hospitality workers; food trades workers and food preparation assistants; supermarket workers; retail and sales assistants; aged and disability care workers; cleaners and laundry workers; and security guards.


How much will the worker be paid?

Payments are made at the national minimum wage ($20.33 per hour as of 1 July 2021), regardless of what the worker usually will have been paid.


Are workers paid the Sick Pay Guarantee by their employer?

No. It is paid by the Victorian Government, directly to the worker.


Will the scheme by extended?

At present the Scheme is due to last for a two year trial, but the Government has indicated that it may be extended after that, and that other industries may be added to the scheme. The Government has suggested that in the future an industry levy may be used to pay for the scheme, but no information has been released on what form that levy might take.


How do employees apply?

Employees can apply here


Eligible occupations for Sick Pay Guarantee

Job: Hospitality workers

Type of work

Providing services to patrons of hotels, bars, cafes, restaurants, casinos and similar establishments:

  • Bar Attendant
  • Bar Back
  • Bar Steward
  • Bar Useful or Busser
  • Barista
  • Cafe Assistant
  • Cafe Attendant
  • Cafe Worker
  • Canteen Attendant
  • Casino Gaming Inspector
  • Cellar Hand (Hotel)
  • Croupier
  • Doorperson or Luggage Porter
  • Drink Waiter
  • Food and Beverage Attendant
  • Formal Service Waiter
  • Front Office Manager (Hotel)
  • Gaming Pit Boss
  • Gaming Worker
  • Glassie
  • Head Housekeeper
  • Head Porter (Hotel)
  • Hotel Concierge
  • Hotel Office Manager
  • Hotel Service Manager
  • Hotel Service Supervisor
  • Silver Service Waiter
  • Sommelier
  • Uniform Room Attendant
  • Waiter
  • Wine Steward


Job: Food preparation assistants

Type of work

Preparing food in fast food establishments, assisting food trades workers and service staff to prepare and serve food, cleaning food preparation and service areas.

  • Bakery Assistant
  • Butcher’s Assistant
  • Chef’s Assistant
  • Cook’s Assistant
  • Dishwasher
  • Fast Food Cook
  • Kitchen Steward
  • Kitchenhand
  • Pantry Attendant
  • Pastrycook’s Assistant
  • Sandwich Hand
  • Short Order Cook


Job: Food trades workers

Type of work

Baking bread and pastry goods; preparing meat for sale; planning, organising, preparing and cooking food for dining and catering establishments.

  • Baker
  • Butcher or Smallgoods Maker
  • Cake Decorator
  • Chef
  • Chef de Partie
  • Commis Chef
  • Cook
  • Demi Chef
  • Dough Maker
  • Pastrycook
  • Second Chef
  • Sous Chef


Job: Sales support workers

Type of work

Providing assistance to retailers, wholesalers and sales staff by operating cash registers, modelling, demonstrating, selecting, buying, promoting and displaying goods.

  • Cashier
  • Checkout Operator
  • Merchandise Planner
  • Merchandiser
  • Mystery Shopper
  • Office Cashier
  • Other Sales Support Worker
  • Personal Shopper
  • Retail Buyer
  • Sales Demonstrator
  • Service Station Console Operator
  • Telemarketer
  • Ticket Seller
  • Visual Merchandiser
  • Window Dresser


Job: Sales assistants

Type of work

Selling goods and services directly to the public on behalf of retail and wholesale establishments.

  • Automotive Parts Interpreter
  • Bottle Dealer
  • Car Rental Sales Assistant
  • Carpet Measurer
  • Cash Van Salesperson
  • Checkout Supervisor
  • Clothing Sales Assistant
  • Cosmetic Sales Assistant
  • Door-to-door Salesperson
  • Driveway Attendant
  • Fast Food Sales Assistant
  • Fleet Salesperson
  • Hardware Sales Assistant
  • Ice-cream Van Vendor
  • ICT Sales Assistant
  • Industrial Hire Sales Assistant
  • Lotteries Agent
  • Market Stall Vendor
  • Materials Recycler
  • Milk Vendor
  • Mobile Phone Salesperson
  • Motor Vehicle or Caravan Salesperson
  • Motor Vehicle Parts Interpreter / Automotive Parts Salesperson
  • Motor Vehicle Salesperson
  • Party Plan Salesperson
  • Pharmacy Sales Assistant
  • Rental Clerk
  • Rental Salesperson
  • Retail Sales Assistant
  • Retail Supervisor
  • Sales Assistant (General)
  • Sales Department Supervisor
  • Scrap Materials Buyer
  • Service Station Attendant
  • Street Vendor
  • Swimming Pool Salesperson
  • Video Library Assistant


Job: Other labourers who work in supermarket supply chains

Type of work

Including workers who fill shelves and display areas in stores and supermarkets; load and unload trucks and containers; and handle goods and freight.

  • Freight Handler (Rail or Road)
  • Freight Loader
  • Janitor
  • Night Filler
  • Shelf Filler
  • Truck Driver’s Offsider


Job: Aged and disability carers

Type of work

Providing general household assistance, emotional support, care and companionship for aged and disabled persons in their own homes.

  • Aged or Disabled Care Worker
  • Aged or Disabled Carer
  • Personal Care Worker
  • Personal Carer


Job: Cleaners and laundry workers

Type of work

Cleaning vehicles, commercial, industrial and domestic premises, construction sites and industrial machines, and clothing and other items in laundries and dry‑cleaning establishments.

  • Aircraft Cabin Cleaner
  • Car Detailer
  • Carpet Cleaner
  • Chimney Sweep
  • Commercial Cleaner
  • Commercial Housekeeper
  • Domestic Cleaner
  • Domestic Housekeeper
  • Drycleaner
  • Folding Machine Operator
  • Graffiti Cleaner
  • High Pressure Cleaner
  • Ironer or Presser
  • Laundry Worker (General)
  • Linen Sorter
  • School Cleaner
  • Swimming Pool Cleaner
  • Upholstery Cleaner
  • Vehicle Detailer
  • Window Cleaner


Job: Security officers and guards

Type of work

Providing security and investigative services to organisations and individuals, excluding armoured car escorts and private investigators.

  • Bouncer
  • Crowd Controller
  • Mobile Patrol Officer
  • Retail Loss Prevention Officer
  • Security Guard
  • Security Officer



About Employment Innovations

Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.



The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.