Hazard Pay For Essential Workers

Many people have had questions and not understood the reality regarding hazard pay for essential workers. Many believe that the federal government has already funded hazard pay for workers. This is not the case.

As a nurse, I work with a number of workers who have been discussing this for several weeks, asking when they will get their hazard pay. I was one of the few not asking the question. Sure, it would benefit me but I was not adding it into my budget. However, after the conversation continued to escalate emotionally, ever the geek I did the research for everyone while they discussed food and cars. It took one single search term to find the answer. Less than 2 minutes.

That’s what happens when you take action, think critically and put your emotions on the back burner.

What has happened so far is that the first “stimulus” bill provided funding for hospitals. There was no requirement included in that bill for any funds at all to be paid to workers. Basically it gave corporate executives and investors money. Soon after receiving that money, many medical systems began laying off personnel, closing entire floors of hospitals in the process.

It would take a separate executive order by Trump to establish funding to treat patients positive for the pandemic.

Only on 4/26/2020 was a bill proposed by Democrats which calls for hazard pay for essential workers, even as states are attempting to lift restrictions sooner than is safe to do so. The bill will likely not be voted on at all for weeks or months, seeing that Congress has suspended session. It would have to be approved by the Democrat-majority House and the Republican-majority Senate to pass. The House may pass it but it seems extremely unlikely the Senate would do so.

The bill includes hazard pay for all essential workers, funded by the Treasury Dept, not by employers. It would be retroactive to earlier this year and employers would have to provide proof that the funds were distributed to workers. It also includes caps of $35,000 for medical personnel and $25,000 for non-medical personnel, with additional caps according to income level above $200,000 before the hazard pay.

Even if the bill were to pass, considering the existing issues with many thousands to millions being unable to obtain unemployment so far, we can reasonably assume that it would not be provided to workers for months, perhaps years, if ever. In addition, we can look at how the small business funding part of the first stimulus bill was coopted by banks and larger businesses to extrapolate that corporate medical systems will make every possible attempt to seize the majority of the hazard pay and include administrative personnel who have remained at home through the pandemic.

Not being a pessimist here, just stating the known facts of living in a corporate supremacist economy. We know there will be massive corruption involved and we know that corruption will go unpunished.

All of this said, please be nice to essential workers. Don’t be a freaking Karen. The workers keeping basic needs running do not always want to be there. They are there because of necessity. The vast majority are trying to keep their own basic living needs maintained, especially when speaking of those on the lower end of the income scale. In all cases, there is very real danger and no small part of that danger is brought about by stress. They do not need you making it worse. You can be viewed as the person who improves a person’s day or the one who pushes a person over the edge of anxiety and depression. Doing the latter adds nothing to your life or anyone else’s. It does not make you important, it makes you an ass that nobody needs around. Your own anxiety is no excuse and no, you do not know if your anxiety is worse than anyone else’s.

The absolute best thing we can do for each other at this time is be compassionate and patient. When all else fails, we have to rely on one another above all else. Always remember that you may be the one needing that compassion and caring next. The person you abuse today may be the one you ask for understanding tomorrow.

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