Hazard pay, expanded to include grocery workers, to launch Oct. 28
Applications open Oct. 28 for a second round of hazard pay funding. This time around, people who work in pharmacies, grocery stores and some retail stores will be eligible for the pay bonuses, which lawmakers designed to acknowledge the workers who stayed in high-contact positions as the COVID-19 crisis grew last spring.
“This phase recognizes some of the forgotten heroes of last spring: the people who kept us fed, housed our most vulnerable, cared for our children, and so much more,” said Gov. Phil Scott on Thursday.
The first hazard pay program, adopted in the summer, focused on health care workers and provided one-time payments of $1,200 or $2,000 depending on the number of hours worked and other eligibility criteria. The legislation initially included retail and grocery store employees, but House members had worried that it was so broad that it wouldn’t be eligible for Vermont’s $1.25 billion share of federal COVID-19 assistance funds.
Legislative counsel then found that the federal coronavirus relief funds could be used to cover the expansion of the program.
In the first round of the program, about $28 million went out to about 15,650 people who work mainly in the health care and human services fields. The Department of Financial Regulation will administer the $22.5 million second round.
To be eligible, employees must have worked a certain number of hours from the initial state of emergency through May 15, with increased risk of exposure to COVID-19. The DFR is holding a webinar for employers about the program on Oct. 26 at 3 p.m.
Prospective applicants are encouraged to review the Hazard Pay Program Guidance and to complete these spreadsheets as soon as possible, before the application portal opens on Oct. 28.
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