Rosa Raco, Principal and Katherine Taylor, Law Student
The pandemic has exposed ‘vulnerable’ workers to even further risk.
The Rail, Tram, and Bus Union’s (RTBU) National Secretary, Mark Diamond highlights that, “While some workers can choose to work from home, or have the option to be redeployed to areas where they are not at risk, this is not the case for everyone.” He adds that these workers who are at genuine and significant risk should not have to choose between going to work and putting their “life on the line” and their livelihood.
A resolution by the ACTU’s National Executive, proposed and moved by the RTBU, addresses the suggested need for a guaranteed full salary by the federal government for workers classified as “vulnerable” who voluntarily stay at home. The ACTU “resolves to endorse and promote a COVID Vulnerable Worker Payment.”
How would someone be eligible for the Vulnerable Worker Payment?
The Department of Health classes ‘vulnerable’ as being “those most at risk of severe or moderate illness from COVID-19.”
Workers likely to suffer from ‘moderate illness’ due to COVID-19 include chronic renal (kidney) failure, heart disease (coronary heart disease or failure), diabetes, severe obesity and poorly-controlled blood pressure.
The Department of Health categories include workers who:
- are 70 years of age or over;
- have had an organ transplant and are on immune suppressive therapy;
- have had a bone marrow transplant in the last 24 months;
- are on immune suppressive therapy for graft versus host disease; and
- have blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myelodysplastic syndrome (diagnosed within the last 5 years) & are having chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
The resolution adds that consideration for this vulnerability should be extended to pregnant workers, the classification supported by Royal College of Australian and NZ Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
As we see Victoria move into Stage 3 and Stage 4 restrictions, this risk to vulnerable workers becomes even more heightened.
This article has been prepared by WR Law for information purposes only and is not legal advice. Please contact WR Law directly for legal advice regarding your specific circumstances.
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