Leave no worker behind: Changes are needed to make sure all at-risk workers can receive JobKeeper

Changes to the Federal Government's JobKeeper program are needed to ensure that people who should not work because they are at increased risk of serious - and even fatal - illness from coronavirus do not miss out on payments. 

Under the proposed arrangements, at-risk employees who should not work due to their age or a medical precondition are not eligible to receive the JobKeeper payment. This is a major issue facing people who work in essential services, such as supermarkets, transport and even health. 

Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) National Secretary Mark Diamond today called for changes to allow at-risk workers in essential services who are stood down or should not work, to request their employer to apply for JobKeeper payments, regardless of whether the employer meets the turnover reduction threshold.

According to the Federal Government's own advice, workers at-risk of more serious illness with coronavirus include people over the age of 60 or those with certain chronic conditions. 

The RTBU's call comes as at least one employer in the rail industry has raised with the Union the idea of standing down workers over the age of 60 because of concerns they are at increased risk of serious illness from coronavirus.  

"We can't let people fall through the cracks at this time, especially workers at the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic," Mr Diamond said.  

"Protecting people's health must never come at the expense of putting food on the table and that's why we are calling on the Federal Government to make this change as it drafts the legislation for next week's sitting of Parliament."