Access to COVID isolation payments will resume from the end of this week, as health authorities try to stop the growing spread of virus cases across the country.
Employees who have tested positive for COVID and need to self-isolate from work can receive the $750 payment which will be available starting Wednesday.
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It comes after the federal government agreed to extend isolation payments known as the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment (PLDP) until the end of September, after the program ended on June 30.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said payments were reinstated following health advice on the rising number of COVID cases, caused by a more infectious strain of the Omicron subvariant.
Chalmers said the federal government will work collaboratively with state and territory governments to help manage the third wave of Omicron cases.
The return of COVID isolation payments will come with a $780 million price tag, but the costs will be split between federal, state and territory governments.
The government initially said it did not want to reintroduce the payments due to pressure on the federal budget.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has not indicated whether the September 30 deadline for payments could be extended.
The number of cases continues to increase due to Omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 strains.
Over the weekend, more than 78,000 new cases of COVID were recorded, with 107 deaths recorded.
More than 337,000 active cases of the virus have been reported, including 4,700 treated for COVID in hospital.
Experts said that the peak of the new wave of Omicron is not expected to reach the end of July.
With more COVID hospitalizations expected to occur in the coming weeks, the Victorian government has offered a package of over $160 million to respond to the surge.
The money will be used to fund 400 additional specialist staff at 12 major hospitals in Melbourne and Geelong.
It comes as hospitals experience a spike in cases, accompanied by staff shortages due to healthcare workers being sick with the virus, with more than 10,000 staff sick in the first week of July alone.
There has been a 99% increase in hospitalizations with COVID in the state since June 22.
Who is eligible?
The payment is taxable income, which means you will need to include it on your tax return.
You can request payment if you are quarantined with COVID or self-isolating as a close contact or caregiver.
You must not be on sick leave, pandemic leave, compassionate care leave, or personal leave, and have been unable to work for at least eight hours (or a full workday) in any seven days of self-isolation, quarantine or care.
A full workday is the total number of hours scheduled and may be less than eight hours for full-time, part-time and casual shifts.
If you have a child under 16 or are caring for someone living with you, including someone who is disabled or has a serious medical condition, you are also eligible for payment.
Essential workers who are able to work and earn an income will not be eligible for payment unless you are caring for someone with COVID, or cannot return to work without a RAT test and you are not can’t get one.
You must also be an Australian resident over the age of 17 and living in Australia at the time of your application, with less than $10,000 in liquid assets.
Your request will also need to be made within 14 days of the start date of your self-isolation period to be valid.
How much can I get?
You can request payment multiple times, but the amount will depend on how much work you lost.
Between eight hours (or a full day of work) and 20 hours of work lost, the payment will be $450.
For more than 20 hours of lost work, payment will be $750.
How can I make a complaint?
You will need a myGov account linked to Centrelink to request payment – if you don’t have an account you can create one and link it here.
If you have never made a claim with Services Australia before and need to create an account, you will need an Australian birth or citizenship certificate, or an Australian visa or passport – this is in addition to your driver’s licenseand health insurance card.
Once you are logged in to MyGov, select “request help” from the coronavirus government support alert.
Under ‘affected by coronavirus’, select ‘get started’ and select ‘request pandemic leave disaster payment’.
From there, you will need to follow the claim prompts, including uploading supporting documents.