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Woolworths Will Pay Casuals Who Self-Isolate Due To Coronavirus

Woolworths has confirmed it will pay casual staff who are forced to self-isolate due to coronavirus for shifts they would have normally worked.

The supermarket giant told 10 daily it would allow workers to be paid for shifts they were rostered for if they needed time off due to COVID-19.

"Team members who are required to be absent from work due to coronavirus (either due to their own self-isolation, illness or their need to care for others), should not be disadvantaged based on their employment status or the availability of personal leave," a Woolworths spokesperson said.

"We’ve made it clear to our team that we’ll look after anyone impacted by the outbreak whether they’re full-time, part-time or casual.

“This is not only the right thing to do by those team members but also an important measure to ensure everybody in our business takes appropriate action in response to public health advice.”

The supermarket's stance comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison was criticised by the Australian Council of Trade Unions on Thursday for "abandoning" casual workers.

The PM announced a massive stimulus package which includes a one-off $750 payment to Australians eligible for government payments.

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A total of 6.5 million Australians will qualify for the payment.

"This includes recipients on Newstart, the disability support pension, carers' allowance, youth allowance, veterans support payments, family tax benefits, the Commonwealth senior health card-holders and 2.4 million aged pensioners," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

"Suggesting that casual and contract workers can be simply moved onto Newstart, already a below poverty payment, and expected to survive an extended period when many are already struggling is an absurd idea," ACTU said in a statement.

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"This is not only a policy laced with cruel indifference to struggling Australian workers, it is also a reckless public health strategy."

Millions of Australians who are not entitled to paid sick leave may be forced to choose between going to work ill or losing pay if they test positive for coronavirus.

According to the ACTU, 3.3 million workers --- or one in three --- do not have paid sick days.

Margaret Sinclair, a casual teacher in Victoria, feared she'll struggle to feed her family if she's forced to undergo two weeks of self-isolation --  the recommended quarantine for diagnosed coronavirus patients.

Margaret Sinclair is a mother of three and a casual teacher. Image: Supplied

"Work has only just started up again [after] the end of a school year and summer holidays. So I’m starting the year with no savings," the single mother told 10 daily earlier this week.

Sinclair is the sole provider for her family and has three children.

"Taking two weeks off at this stage would see me borrowing money to pay for food and perhaps having a payment for an essential service bill or two bounce," she said.

"Not taking two weeks off would see me being a danger to children and staff at whichever schools I would teach at," she claimed.

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"My income is the only income for the family. There’s no backup. Multiply my situation with the number of casual relief teachers out there, or the number of nursing or aged care staff [who] work as casuals," she said.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus said Australia was lagging behind the United Kingdom, whose conservative government had provided "some financial support to workers who must be isolated".

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Contact Eden at egillespie@networkten.com.au