Saturday, 11 June 2011

No one got rich being sick

For the last few weeks, I've been working two shifts a week - each one is four hours, so that college students and people with other jobs can fit them around their other commitments easier. After some deliberation I decided to increase this to three.

I realised last night that this twelve hours of work, at the rate of $15/hr (higher than the minimum wage, but not higher than what some political parties are saying should be the minimum wage), I will be earning nearly as much a week as you can get on the sickness benefit. (I could basically equal it with thirteen hours.) While you can get additional medical costs and accommodation supplements, the way those scale is something of a joke. Last time I got the accommodation supplement it was $6 a week. Plus, you can get supplements whether you're on a benefit or not.

The sickness benefit is for those who temporarily can't work part- or full-time - presumably, fifteen hours a week or more. To support these people, the government doles out an amount that's less than what even the minimum wage would pay for fifteen hours of work. So, let's be clear here - if you work forty hours a week, <em>don't get sick</em>. Especially don't get sick in a way that requires a particular diet, or better temperature control, or any accommodations for injuries that aren't explicitly medical. Definitely don't get sick if you have children or pets, or pay extra for a nice place to live. Don't get sick if your medical providers are a bit of a drive away and you're worried about the price of petrol, or if you can't now or won't be able to drive and are going to need taxis. Don't get sick if you have credit cards to pay off, purchases on layby or furniture or car/s bought on financing. Don't get sick with something that will cause you to gain or lose a lot of weight and require new clothing. 

Because even if you're paid shit all, you're going to find yourself fighting with WINZ to get an income that will max out at one third of what you're used to.

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