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Wednesday, 29 June 1938

Mr ROSEVEAR (Dalley) .- The Senate has requested that sick pay shall begin on the fifth day of incapacity, instead of the seventh as previously provided in the bill. That is an improvement; admittedly, but it does not go far enough. We must remember that all the subscribers to the scheme will be in receipt of less than £7 a week, and one need not know a great deal of the conditions under which those people live to realize that when pay day comes round the money is spent almost as soon as it is obtained.

Mr Beasley - What is the reason for deferring the payment of sickness benefit?

Mr ROSEVEAR - I can only suggest that the Treasurer (Mr. Casey), and those who advise him, know that, in the vast majority of cases, the average sick ness will be for only a brief period, and their purpose is to conserve the insurance fund as much as possible. It will not be much consolation to the unfortunate workers to know that, instead of having to be fourteen days off work before collecting £1, it will, under the amendment, be necessary to be off for only twelve days. The payment of contributions under the scheme will represent a considerable sacrifice to most insured persons, and it is not right that they should have to wait for twelve days before receiving £1 in sick pay. The committee should reject the Senate's request, and substitute the word " first " for the word " seventh ", thus providing that sick benefit shall commence from the time when the employee ceases work on account of illness. The vast majority of those who will need benefits under this scheme will be workers who are temporarily ill. One of the strongest arguments advanced in favour of the measure is that under present conditions the great majority of the workers who become sick continue in their employment, and, ultimately, many of them become so seriously ill that their health suffers irreparable damage. It is of no use to provide a sick employee with medicine unless he is also given means of sustenance. If the object of the health scheme is to enable the worker who is indisposed to leave his employment for a few days in order to recover his health, that purpose will not be achieved if five days must elapse before the commencement of the payment of sickness benefit.

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