This Man Thinks WFH Employees Should Be Paid Less, and Here’s the Thing: No

Is there any meal more delicious than a bad take? To sip and dine on an opinion so rancid that it’s fermented into a meme? To gobble up poison instead of the things that are sweet?

Well, on 12 July, Australia scored a doozy of an opinion. The former Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett, claimed that public servants who work from home should score a lower salary.

“Victoria’s financial position is such that we cannot afford to be increasing salaries,” said Kennett, “so the most appropriate method is if a person chooses to work from home, whatever the number of days a week, their salary is reduced by the ­reduction in costs they would have otherwise incurred.”

Jeff Kennett
Image: Getty Images

“There will be people making a decision (to work from home) because they don’t have to go through the trauma of driving to and from work, or (taking) the train or something. They save money, and it saves them all that stress.”

Now, there’s a lot wrong with this quote. It contains so much misinfo that you might dismiss it with a pithy wave of your hands. However, doing so means that its content remains unchallenged. Additionally, it means you can’t savour the take. 

So, it’s time to put your bid on and get ready for a two-course meal. Here’s everything wrong with Kennett’s work from home opinions. 

Myth One: Victoria Can’t Increase Its Salaries

As of 2023, Victoria’s public sector workers will receive an annual pay rise of 3%. Unfortunately, this pay rise is below the rate of inflation. According to the Consumer Price Index, the cost of our everyday goods have risen by 7%.

This means that the Victorian Government has a responsibility to give its public servants more money than what they are getting. 

Additionally, if the government can’t do this, as Kennett claims, they need to reallocate their resources. Otherwise, they need to tax their wealthy residents to a greater extent than they’re doing.

Australia can’t have more of its citizens fall into poverty. It doesn’t matter if an employee is working from home or an office chum. Everyone deserves a living wage.

Myth Two: People Work From Home ‘Cause of Trains

In Kennett’s statement, he classifies driving to work or taking the train as traumatic. He believes that people who avoid these tasks are beneath those who do. Otherwise, why should ‘work from home’ people get a lower salary?

Yet, this is not the reason most people who work from home. Most people work from home because they can do their job from home. They work just as hard. They’re just as productive. Heck, depending on how disruptive their office is, maybe more so. 

These people deserve to be compensated fairly for their labor. You don’t slash wages just because your office’s more empty. To do so is spiteful and weak.

Thankfully, Kennett’s bad take is just that: A bad take. It isn’t policy. He’s no longer the Premier of Victoria, and the Andrews Government stated that it wouldn’t embrace this idea.

As per a Victorian Government spokesperson, “The government will not be taking advice from Jeff Kennett, whose Liberal government closed hospitals and schools and sacked teachers and nurses.”

Let’s just hope that no one else adopts his opinion.

Related: The Work From Home Dream — Is It Legit Dead?

Related: Post-Pandemic Work — The Three Main Trends We’re Wanting to Keep

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