As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect lives and businesses around the world, we look at an issue that has been cropping up in PRO circles increasingly of late – hazard pay.
The Department of Labor in the United States defines hazard pay as: “Additional pay for performing hazardous duty or work involving physical hardship. Work duty that causes extreme physical discomfort and distress which is not adequately alleviated by protective devices is deemed to impose a physical hardship.” Furthermore, the Fair Labor Standards Act requires that hazard pay “be included as part of a federal employee’s regular rate of pay in computing the employee’s overtime pay.”
You are not legally bound to hazard pay unless your employees are contracted as federal employees. Therefore, it is up to you to decide if your workers are performing hazardous duties or not. A survey on how the liquid waste industry was responding to COVID-19 – which was covered in an infographic we shared from ServiceCore – found that 80% of companies were not providing hazard or bonus pay during the pandemic. However, it’s important to note that this survey was conducted back in May, and a lot has changed since then. As the pandemic continues, many employees will feel they should be rewarded for their work. With many industries shut down or switched to remote working, your team is out there with frontline workers, still putting in shifts to ensure society can function. They have the extra risk of bringing the virus back to their homes and families. Because of this, some companies have chosen to reward their staff, while others are continuing with business as usual, although they may have previous incentives in place like an end-of-year bonus that’s a percentage of income. At the end of the day, the decision rests with you.
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If you do wish to offer hazard pay, it can come in the form of straight-up cash. Some bosses are adding an extra dollar or two to the hourly wage to say thanks. This is something that has been seen in the healthcare field especially as a way to keep key staff members. If you prefer, you can implement incentive or reward schemes instead – a big thank-you dinner or barbecue, a one-off bonus payment, quarterly or monthly gifts. For more, read our articles on getting the best out of your staff and building morale.
Think about what works best for your company’s finances and ethos. You may not want to pay extra now if you have to cut it again at some point in the future. Or, you may feel it’s worth it to show your team they’re appreciated. The main takeaway here is that you should be letting your employees know they are highly valued at this difficult time. Figure out the best way you can do that and go for it. If it feels right, you won’t regret it. Just make sure you’re upfront with your staff and you’re taking everything into consideration first.
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