COVID-19 has brought a lot of changes to the world.
One of the most notable changes has been defining what an essential business is, and what essential workers deserve for working through a time of crisis. Hazard pay is compensation for workers performing hazardous duties. Yet, we currently live in a time where leaving your house is considered a hazardous duty.
In response to this, the HEROES Act was passed by the House on May 15, 2020. Essentially, the HEROES Act is a $3-trillion stimulus relief package designed to keep the United States’ economy afloat. It particularly focuses on supporting essential workers out on the pandemic’s frontlines. Essential worker positions include medical personnel, postal and delivery workers, food manufacturers, and grocery clerks.
Retail business, though, like grocery and drug stores, are current areas of dispute in regards to hazard pay. Since late March many retailers – Kroger, Whole Foods, Amazon, Rite Aid – have compensated their workers with an extra $2 per hour. As of late May, many of these same retailers are now withdrawing the extra compensation.
Kroger, in particular, actually sent letters to select employees stating that they had actually been overpaid during the pandemic and must pay back their earnings. Kroger now states that they are no longer requiring employees to do so. However, the company has not commented on why these letters went out in the first place.
Retail workers are lobbying behind the statement, “We deserve hazard pay until I [we] no longer have to wear a mask.” Though as we approach defining what the “new normal” will be one cannot help but wonder if these precautionary measures are here to stay for good.
How Long Should Hazard Pay Continue?
Until workers no longer have to wear face masks
Until we figure out what the “new normal” entails