Brown Calls for Pandemic Premium Pay and Health Protections for All Frontline Workers During Coronavirus Pandemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) wrote to President Trump calling for action to include hazard pay, or Pandemic Premium Pay, in the next stimulus package for all workers on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic, including doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, building cleaners, letter carriers, transit workers and more. Brown is also pushing for increased action from the White House to ensure companies are implementing plans to help protect these workers from exposure to COVID-19.

Brown’s letter follows reporting that the Administration is considering hazard pay for health workers, but not other essential employees who are putting their health and safety at risk during the pandemic. Brown supports the Administration’s efforts to increase pay for health workers and believes other workers on the frontlines should be included in any new stimulus package, as well as safety protections that will help protect the health of workers from exposure to coronavirus.

“Health care workers and all individuals who continue to report to work during this pandemic are frontline employees who deserve gratitude, protection, and support.  I am glad that your Administration recognizes the risks they face and sacrifices they make during this health emergency.  I look forward to working with you to ensure employers provide the well-deserved Pandemic Premium Pay necessary to adequately compensate their frontline workers. And I urge you to immediately issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to protect these workers, their families, and the public from further spread of the coronavirus,” Brown wrote.

Brown has led efforts to promote pro-worker policies in any government stimulus package. In the last stimulus package, Brown fought to put assistance directly in the pockets of workers, expand Unemployment Insurance, provide the resources and personal protective equipment (PPE) our frontline health care workers need, and more. After President Trump and the Senate GOP produced a pro-corporate bailout at the expense of workers, Brown went to work to improve the deal and help put workers first.

Brown’s letter can be found HERE and below.

Dear President Trump:

I am glad your Administration recognizes the need to compensate workers on the frontline of the public health emergency.  Our nation’s doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, home health care workers, building cleaners, delivery workers, letter carriers, transit workers, and many others continuing to work at essential businesses should be fully compensated for their commitment and sacrifice, which they make at great risk to them and their families. In addition, your Administration must take additional steps to protect these workers by directing employers to implement critical health and safety requirements that will reduce the exposure and spread of the coronavirus in the workplace.  Failure to implement these requirements will continue to put workers’ lives in danger. 

The next coronavirus-related legislative package considered by Congress should include a requirement for all companies deemed essential during the coronavirus pandemic to provide so-called “hazard pay,” or Pandemic Premium Pay, to their workers.  Pandemic Premium Pay should be equal to time and a half wages.  It should be available to all workers, including part-time workers and independent contractors, for all of their hours worked, and it should be provided in their regular paychecks.  Importantly, Pandemic Premium Pay should be retroactive from the beginning of the public health emergency and last for its duration.  These specifics are necessary to ensure any effort to provide Pandemic Premium Pay is done in the most meaningful, efficient and cost-effective way for workers and for taxpayers.  I look forward to working with you to include it in the next coronavirus-related legislative package that reaches your desk.

Many health care workers have already fallen ill, and at least three have died as a result of the coronavirus.  Additionally, there are reports of workers contracting the virus in grocery stores and other places of employment.  Providing Pandemic Premium Pay will not mitigate frontline workers’ health risks, which is why your Administration must also quickly publish an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that requires employers to implement comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plans to protect frontline health care and all other essential workers from the coronavirus.  Worker health is public health, and we must protect the health of workers to protect the public. 

Several states have already published guidance for essential employers that instructs businesses to reduce the total number of employees at a facility at one time, provide frequent hand washing opportunities and resources, and perform enhanced cleaning of workplaces to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.  Any ETS issued by your Administration should incorporate these and other instructions.  Specifically, an ETS must also include compulsory protective equipment requirements and other standards for health care and emergency responders, as well as a requirement that all other workers stay six feet apart from customers and other coworkers.  A comprehensive ETS is critical to protecting workers, their families, and the public from the spread of the virus.  In addition, no worker should be forced to come to work, particularly if they are exhibiting symptoms, if they do not feel safe doing so. 

Health care workers and all individuals who continue to report to work during this pandemic are frontline employees who deserve gratitude, protection, and support.  I am glad that your Administration recognizes the risks they face and sacrifices they make during this health emergency.  I look forward to working with you to ensure employers provide the well-deserved Pandemic Premium Pay necessary to adequately compensate frontline workers   And I urge you to immediately issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to protect these workers, their families, and the public from further spread of the coronavirus. 

Sincerely,

 

 

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