Vt. lawmakers consider giving frontline workers 'hazard pay'

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Vermont lawmakers are looking at giving Vermonters who have to work during the pandemic a pay bump.

Senate President Tim Ashe, D/P Chittenden County, asked lawmakers to explore giving some essential workers a pay raise and to see if federal relief money can be used to do so. He says without the incentive, many low-wage workers including custodians, store clerks, and child care workers, may decide to quit and rely solely on unemployment benefits.

"In light of that, and factoring in the heightened risk many essential workers face at their jobs, I worry that it will be hard to sustain the workforce needed to perform essential functions if the current state of emergency lasts into late spring or early summer," Ashe said in a statement. "Put simply, an essential employee should not be compensated less for working than for not working."

City Market in Burlington is one example of a business that is giving their employees "hazard pay." Under the agreement, workers will get a $120 bonus retroactively from March 15 until May 2, a period of seven weeks. For an employee who works 40 hours a week, the bonus comes to $840 during that time.