Thousands of 7-Eleven casual workers will be guaranteed up to two weeks’ paid leave if forced into isolation by the coronavirus or required to care for someone with the virus.

As Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter warned of more mass stand downs by big companies, 7-Eleven told franchisees it would fund leave for the network’s 7480 casuals if they contracted the virus, needed to self-isolate or had to provide care to someone with the virus.

The move to support casuals came as the restaurant and catering sector called for the wages of 2.4 million low-paid workers to be frozen for “at least” 12 months ­because of the economic impact of the pandemic.

Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive Wes Lambert said the Fair Work Com­mission should also consider delaying its national minimum wage deliberations by six months.

“Ultimately, with hundreds of thousands of businesses potentially closing due to the corona­virus, it’s a very difficult time for the Fair Work Commission to be deciding about wage increases,” he told The Australian. “There are lots of pundits out there saying this is a one-in-a-100-year occurrence. I don’t disagree.”

The commission is receiving initial submissions and the next minimum wage decision is scheduled to take effect from July 1.

In a submission to the commission, the Restaurant & Catering Industrial Association said minimum and award wages should be frozen for at least a year.

Mr Lambert said 61 per cent of workers across the sector were ­casuals earning award rates but they are being stood down ­because of the pandemic’s impact.

Employers and unions in the electrical and transport sectors united to call for industry assistance as the Transport Workers Union said it would defer bargaining across its enterprise agreements until the crisis was over.

In the wake of Qantas standing down 20,000 workers, Mr Porter has warned Australians to brace for similar moves by other big companies. “It is an unfortunate reality that this will not be the only announcement of this type we see from major Australian companies affecting large groups of employees,” he said.

Extracted from The Australian