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Should essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic receive hazard pay?

As COVID-19 lockdowns, quarantines, and “stay-at-home orders” continue, everyone able is encouraged to work or attend school from home. However, certain workers have been designated “essential” to the functioning of our society and continue to show up to work in-person, even in the midst of a global health crisis. In addition to the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers on the frontline of caring for COVID patients, these essential workers also include grocery store clerks, farm workers, delivery people, and restaurant staff who frequently make low wages and have few benefits. Many of these workers are now demanding hazard pay as they continue to risk contracting COVID-19 while doing their jobs. Should essential workers receive hazard pay?


Why Essential Workers Are Not Paid More After Their Jobs Got Risky

'We're Risking Our Lives': Front-Line Federal Workers Sue For Hazard Pay

Additional resources to think about

How 4 Small Businesses Are Coping Amidst a Crisis
This episode of a short series by Vice covers the experiences of people and small businesses who are considered essential in the “new reality” that is the coronavirus pandemic.

As 'Hero' Pay Ends, Essential Workers Wonder What They Are Worth
This article from NPR talks to employees from all across the workforce who received a pay bump as part of their jobs on the frontlines.

Amazon, Instacart Grocery Delivery Workers Demand Coronavirus Protection And Pay
A brief NPR piece that talks to Amazon warehouse workers in New York and Instacart grocery delivery workers across the country who are demanding more protections for their health and safety and higher pay.

Whitmer announces program that gives free college tuition to essential frontline workers
Article about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s announcement that a state-wide program will offer essential and frontline workers in the COVID-19 crisis a tuition-free path to community college.

'Essential' Status Means Jobs For Farmworkers, But Greater Virus Risk
This article from NPR details the risks for farm workers, some of whom share temporary housing, rides, and meals together as they help provide food for tables across the country and the world.

About That Hazard Pay
Women, especially women of color, are disproportionately likely to be working in jobs deemed essential. This episode of Planet Money explores this phenomenon.

Hazard Pay | U.S. Department of Labor
The United States Department of Labor's definition of hazard pay, including links to the Fair Labor Standards Act fact sheet and other types of premium pay.


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Should essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic receive hazard pay?

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