In a move that surprised many, Victoria’s groundbreaking Sick Pay Guarantee Pilot, initially set for a two-year trial, has been prematurely terminated after just over a year. Launched with much fanfare and anticipation, the $246 million initiative aimed to provide casual workers with paid sick leave, marking a significant departure from traditional employment practices in Australia. However, recent developments have brought an unexpected halt to this ambitious experiment.

History of the Sick Pay Guarantee Pilot

The origins of the Sick Pay Guarantee Pilot can be traced back to the growing concerns over the precarious nature of casual employment in Victoria. Casual workers, often in low-wage and high-risk sectors such as hospitality and retail, faced the daunting prospect of losing income when they fell ill or needed to take time off work due to health-related reasons. Recognising this vulnerability, the Victorian government embarked on a bold mission to address this issue head-on.

In July 2022, the pilot program was officially launched, to provide five days of paid sick leave per year to eligible casual employees. This marked a significant departure from the prevailing norms, where casual workers typically did not enjoy such benefits. The government allocated a substantial budget of $246 million to fund the initiative, signalling its commitment to supporting vulnerable workers in the state.

Who It Applied To

The Sick Pay Guarantee Pilot targeted casual workers across various industries, aiming to provide them with a safety net during times of illness. Eligible participants included casual employees working in sectors such as hospitality, retail, healthcare, and aged care, among others. By extending paid sick leave to this demographic, the government sought to address the inequities inherent in the labour market and improve the well-being of vulnerable workers.

Reasons for Early Termination

Despite its noble intentions, the Sick Pay Guarantee Pilot faced numerous challenges and criticisms during its brief tenure. One of the primary concerns revolved around the program’s implementation and administration, with some employers expressing confusion and dissatisfaction with the application process. Additionally, there were concerns about the financial burden placed on businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, to fund the paid sick leave entitlements.

Furthermore, the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing pressures on businesses, leading to calls for a reassessment of government spending priorities. With the state grappling with budgetary constraints and competing demands for resources, the decision was made to terminate the pilot prematurely. The announcement came as a disappointment to many advocates for workers’ rights, who had hoped to see the program extended and expanded in scope.


While Victoria’s Sick Pay Guarantee Pilot represented a bold attempt to address the shortcomings of casual employment, its premature termination underscores the complexities inherent in implementing such initiatives. Despite the early end of the trial, the program sparked important conversations about the need for greater protections for vulnerable workers and the importance of workplace benefits such as paid sick leave. As policymakers reflect on the lessons learned from this experience, the quest for fair and equitable labour practices continues, reminding us of the ongoing challenges in achieving social and economic justice.

Written by Emily Jaksch

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