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COVID-19 Update: Some Businesses Ending Hero Pay for Essential Workers

May 20, 2020

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses began paying essential workers, such as cleaners and retail staff, additional hourly “hero pay” to compensate for these workers risking infection. Now, as nonessential businesses begin to reopen, some of the essential businesses are eliminating hero pay. However, the pandemic is far from over and many essential workers, who often make less than a living wage, still need the additional pay, Vox reports.

For instance, some of these low-pay workers can’t afford cars so they risk exposure to the coronavirus on public transportation. Many lack health insurance, making illness financially devastating to them and their families.

Some U.S. Congress members have proposed a plan to give essential workers a larger pay raise and extend it through the end of the coronavirus crisis.

ISSA appreciates provisions for additional hazard pay for essential workers, such as custodians, as part of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act) that the U.S. House of Representatives passed last week.

The US$3 trillion COVID-19 stimulus legislation would provide funding for state and local governments, coronavirus testing, and a new round of direct payments to Americans. The legislation now moves onto the U.S. Senate. Of note for the cleaning industry, the House bill also incorporates:

  • Additional cleaning and disinfecting of postal facilities
  • Funds for state block grants for childcare to be used for the cleaning and disinfection of those facilities
  • A Homeland Security directive to put in place a preparedness plan, which includes cleaning and disinfecting of airports and planes
  • Funds for cleaning and sanitization of Tribal-owned and operated facilities
  • A prohibition on price gouging related to cleaning supplies.

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