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COVID-19 testing regime for quarantine workers set to be ramped up

Article image for COVID-19 testing regime for quarantine workers set to be ramped up

The state government is set to make COVID-19 testing mandatory for hotel quarantine workers on their days off, but the move has been slammed by the opposition.

With a worker in a tennis quarantine hotel testing positive to COVID-19 while on days off last week, and a second hotel quarantine worker returning a positive test on Sunday night, there are growing calls for testing to be compulsory for quarantine staff on days they do not work.

Currently, workers are being encouraged to get tested on days they do not work, but it is not mandatory.

Police Minister Lisa Neville said they will make testing on days off mandatory for quarantine workers, but contractual arrangements to be worked through first, and workers may need to be paid for the time taken to go get a test.

But shadow health minister Georgie Crozier says they shouldn’t be paid because other workers getting tests are “not getting any compensation”.

Australian Workers Union Victorian Branch secretary, Ben Davis, says workers must be paid for their time if testing on days off becomes mandatory.

“I don’t think people would bat and eyelid about compulsory testing when people are at home,” he said.

“Paying them for that is not an unreasonable ask.”

Mr Davis says pay rates for quarantine workers, who are barred from having additional employment, need a boost.

“If you were someone who was working in a hotel and it suddenly became a quarantine hotel you’d want to be being paid a fair bit more than you’re currently being paid,” he said.

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