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News August 10, 2022

‘It’s Just Not Fair’: Greens Want Sick Pay Guarantee Extended to Arts Workers

‘It’s Just Not Fair’: Greens Want Sick Pay Guarantee Extended to Arts Workers

The Greens are pushing for self-employed musicians and production crews to be eligible for sick pay.

Gabrielle de Vietri, the party’s candidate for Richmond in Victoria’s upcoming state election, has started a petition urging the Victorian Labor Government to extend its new Sick Pay Guarantee to include casual or self-employed workers in the arts sector, effective immediately.

Filmmakers, producers, theatre workers and visual artists are also currently excluded.

According to de Vietri, herself an artist, those in the arts sector should have fair and equitable access to the same safety nets as casual workers in other industries.

“Too many people in our arts community already struggle to make ends meet, let alone having to navigate lost income when shit hits the fan,” she said.

“Arts workers are in a Catch-22 – either stay home when you’re sick but sacrifice your income and ability to pay the bills, or go to work to survive but potentially spread illness.

“It’s just not fair.”

The Victorian Government introduced the Sick Pay Guarantee in June as a two-year trial to stop low-income workers from going to work when ill during the pandemic.

It provides up to 38 hours (or five days a year) of sick and carer’s pay.

So far it covers 150,000 hospitality workers, food preparation assistants, food trades workers, sales support workers, sales assistants, labourers in supermarket supply chains, aged and disability carers, cleaners and laundry workers and security officers and guards.

They must not already be entitled to paid personal, sick or carer’s leave in any of their jobs, or have leave entitlements, and their workplaces must be physically located in Victoria.

If allowed, each claim by musicians and live sector workers would be paid at the national minimum wage as it is on the date of the claim (currently $20.33 per hour/$772.54 per week).

Sick pay in the music and arts sectors has been a long-time issue.

Studies show that those in the sector feel guilty about taking time off when ill—or fear they might be seen as unreliable and replaced.

But it’s now seen as contributing to burnout, mental health problems, social alienation, substance abuse and higher than average suicide rates in the sectors.

Victoria’s cultural and creative sectors employ approximately 220,000 people, making up 8% of the economy.

It generates $34.5 billion a year, in $1.4 billion in exports and cultural tourism worth $1 billion.


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