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Business support for workers affected by coronavirus welcome

Media Release

Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, Christian Porter, today welcomed announcements from several businesses that they would be offering support to casual workers and workers without leave that are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

“Announcements from Woolworths, Telstra and Commonwealth Bank, introducing measures to support casual workers affected by coronavirus and who would otherwise not have access to paid leave are to be commended and represent these companies doing exactly the right thing to face the challenges ahead,” the Attorney-General said.

“Although details are to still be provided we have also seen a similar commitment from a major player in the gig economy – Uber.

“This is exactly the sort of response Australians expect from our larger companies. It is the sort of flexible response from the business sector that is best for their people and for their businesses.

“It is likely that over coming days and weeks as the impacts and the timing of coronavirus come to be better understood we will see similar commitments from other major businesses.” 

The Attorney-General said these initiatives of major businesses added support to the economic stimulus package announced by the Prime Minister and Treasurer today.

“As the Prime Minister said this morning, it’s important that as well as government support, businesses with the capacity to do so, support all their staff irrespective of their work type,” the Attorney-General said.

“Assistance for affected employees, when it becomes needed should come both through employers in measures such as that instituted by the Commonwealth Bank, Telstra and Woolworths as well as support from taxpayers where necessary. Taxpayer support is best provided through the simplest and fastest delivery mechanism which is far more likely to be through targeted welfare system payments compared with wholesale structural change to the workplace relations system.

“The welfare system provides a broad and tested safety net for people who may find themselves unable to work without access to paid leave. As the Prime Minister has said, the Government is going to provide additional support to affected workers by waiving waiting periods to ensure access to those payments as soon as possible.”