Pandemic Hazard Pay for Essential Workers: Do You Qualify?

Pandemic Hazard Pay for Essential Workers: Do You Qualify?

Steven Schwartzapfel -Founding Partner Apr 19, 2022

For more than 35 years, Steven Schwartzapfel, the founding member of Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C., has been one of New York’s most prominent personal injury attorneys. Steve represents clients in all types of personal injury cases. His experience, skill, and dedication have enabled Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. to recover hundreds of millions of dollars for their clients.

Over the past two years there have been more than 4.5 million cases of COVID-19 in New York City. Of these, more than 60,000 have resulted in death. The pandemic is an ongoing public health emergency that affects everyone, from frontline workers to part-time retail employees.

While New York City has been among the hardest hit regions in the U.S., everywhere from California to Michigan to Florida has felt the effects of the pandemic. Many individuals could not quarantine amidst government shutdowns. Essential workers in particular had to work through every stage of the pandemic.

Unfortunately, despite vaccination efforts, the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is still out of sight; many people are still at risk of serious illness. And with case numbers once again on the rise, essential work remains as vital as ever in the U.S.

Many essential workers, including health care providers like doctors and nurses, as well as teachers, police and correctional officers, and grocery workers, are at risk of contracting the coronavirus in the workplace. What’s more is that already many of them have.

Despite this, there is not much information or awareness about hazard pay or ordinances given to affected workers.

If you or someone you know is an essential worker at risk of contracting COVID-19 or has contracted the virus at work, you may be eligible for compensation.

Read on to learn more about hazard pay and whether or not you qualify. Alternatively, to speak with an experienced Schwartzapfel Lawyers attorney, call us at 1-800-966-4999 for your free consultation.

What Is Hazard Pay?

While you may have received a one-time stimulus check during the pandemic thanks to the Cares Act, hazard pay is not the same as a stimulus payment. As defined by the United States Department of Labor, hazard pay is a “pay increase given to workers who work jobs in which they are at risk of injury or physical harm.”

An example of a worker who may be eligible to receive hazard pay is a construction worker, as they are subject to workplace accidents due to the nature of their job.

While essential laborers such as grocery store workers or health care workers are not typically thought of as holding hazardous jobs, the COVID-19 pandemic has made these positions dangerous, as workers could not work remotely.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, states have been divided as to whether essential workers deserve hazard pay and how much hazard pay should be awarded to them. This decision falls on state officials, including each state’s governor, and different states have their own policies on hazard pay. For example, the laws surrounding hazard pay in Washington are different from Minnesota or Georgia. Each state has a different take on the negotiations surrounding American Rescue Plan funding and how those funds should be spent.

In New York City, up until recently, workplace exposure to COVID-19 and any resulting claims were to be filed under workers’ compensation.

While filing a workers’ compensation claim is one way to receive pay after contracting Covid-19 at work, efforts are now being made to award afflicted individuals with hazard pay funded by the government as well as employers.

Call Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 1-800-966-4999 to learn more about NYS workers’ comp law, workplace exposure to COVID-19, and more.

Hazard Pay Coverage and Amount

Like most types of financial compensation, hazard pay can be awarded to cover any financial, physical, or emotional hardships that an afflicted individual suffers as a result of a work-related injury or illness.

There is no set amount of compensation awarded to individuals, as each case is different depending on the extent of illness incurred due to workplace exposure. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which regulates hazard pay, leaves room for flexible increases to wages for frontline workers.

While there has not been a concrete decision made on how much hazard pay will be awarded to afflicted workers, many individual companies have already begun awarding their employees with hazard pay.

The COVID-19 “Hero’s Fund” awards an additional $13 per hour worked to essential workers afflicted by the virus. The additional pay would be paid in a lump sum, with a $25,000 cap on all payments. This fund could be life-changing for low-wage workers and individuals receiving minimum wage.

The fund, proposed by Democrats in the Senate, has yet to take national hold. However, in New York City, movements to award hazard pay are already taking place.

Hazard Pay: Qualifications and Eligibility

Across New York City, thousands of essential workers have contracted COVID-19 in the workplace, and even more workers have been exposed while on the job.

While legislation surrounding hazard pay remains unclear, discussing your situation with a lawyer may help you stay on top of events and ensure that you are not left out from receiving any compensation you deserve.

This is especially important because, during the pandemic, many cases have seen delays, specifically those that pertain to COVID-19 related losses or damages.

If you are an essential worker who was exposed to or afflicted by COVID-19 in the workplace, you may be wondering whether or not you qualify for hazard pay.

A qualified compensation lawyer can also help you determine your eligibility for hazard pay, as well as how much compensation you may be eligible for. To learn more, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 1-800-966-4999 now. Your consultation will be free and the advice provided to you invaluable – today and tomorrow, in court and in life.

What Makes You an Eligible Worker?

While regulations surrounding hazard pay have still not been straightened out, you may be an eligible worker if any of the following applies to you.

  • You are an essential worker who was unable to work from home during the peak of the pandemic. Essential workers include but are not limited to: healthcare providers, first responders, food service workers, sanitation workers, employees at grocery stores, teachers and daycare workers, and transportation workers like truck drivers and public transit employees. This category also includes some city employees and state employees.
  • You were exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace and tested positive for the virus after being exposed.
  • Your exposure resulted in the loss of wages due to inability to work or be present at work.
  • You were seen by a medical provider after exposure or were hospitalized due to your illness.
  • You incurred medical bills or costs due to your illness.
  • Your employer did not take the necessary safety measures to protect workers from the virus or did not provide protective equipment.

It is important to note that while many people were exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace, not all essential workers may not be eligible for hazard pay.

Unless an essential worker contracted the virus at the workplace and can present a positive test result as proof of their illness, they may not qualify to receive compensation.

Hazard pay may also be extended to help cover individuals who do not work full-time jobs but have smaller gigs, such as food delivery, that cannot be conducted online or from home.

For more on hazard pay eligibility and your rights as a NYC worker, speak with Schwartzapfel Lawyers today. Dial 1-800-966-4999 and protect your financial future starting now!

How To Receive Hazard Pay

Now that you have determined your eligibility for hazard pay, the next steps are to figure out how to apply for and receive those benefits.

Because of the uncertainty surrounding hazard pay, you should consider consulting with a lawyer. A qualified lawyer will have a thorough knowledge of the law and can keep you up to date with any changes made to legislation or guidelines.

An experienced firm may also help you apply for hazard pay and determine the best way through which you can receive it. Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. at 1-800-966-4999 for more information or to go over the specifics of your case and your needs.

Aside from hiring a lawyer, there are ways to ensure that you receive any compensation you are entitled to. To receive hazard pay, there are a few steps you must take.

Secure Any Related Documentation

The first step in filing a successful claim for hazard pay, as well as filing any claim, is preserving and keeping any documents that pertain to your case.

When filing for hazard pay, you will need to show proof of illness or loss. You must keep a record of all test results as well as medical records detailing your illness.

This also includes gathering witness statements from people who were aware of the situation or the conditions surrounding it.

For example, if everyone at your job was concerned about contracting COVID-19 because of others testing positive or a lack of proper equipment, this information may be helpful to your claim.

Keep Your Options Open

Because of the uncertainty surrounding hazard pay, there is no one way to receive your compensation. Some companies are independently giving their employees hazard pay.

To explore your options, you may want to reach out to your employers or employing institutions to find out if they offer workers hazard pay.

Before taking action, however, you should always consult with your lawyer, who will guide you in choosing the best option. This way, you can maximize the benefits you can receive for your losses. To take the first step toward securing your financial future, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 1-800-966-4999 today!

Hazard Pay: Key Takeaways

The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating to New York City and its inhabitants, and especially to the city’s essential workers. Every day thousands of people are at risk of contracting the virus and suffering severe illness as a result.

Essential workers have held the city together, leaving their homes to serve others during the peak of the pandemic. As such, it is time that essential workers receive their due for the sacrifices they have made and the risks they were subjected to.

While it is still unclear what the regulations in New York City surrounding hazard pay are, you may be entitled to receive compensation if you were exposed to the virus in the workplace. Additionally, those who can present a positive test result and other medical records detailing their illness could receive additional pay.

There are numerous ways through which you can receive hazard pay. Many employers have been awarding their employees hazard pay, while other individuals have been compensated through workers’ compensation claims.

Regardless of your situation, it is best to consult with a skilled lawyer to determine what benefits you are eligible to receive and how you can receive them.

If you or someone you love was exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace, one of our lawyers at Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. can help you with your case by taking action and protecting your rights. Call us at 1-800-966-4999 to learn how we can fight – and win – for you!

Alternatively, if you would prefer to book your free consultation online, we would be more than happy to accomodate you. Simply click here and allow Schwartzapfel Lawyers the honor and privilege of assisting you on your road to physical, mental, and emotional recovery.

Sources:

Fighting For You | Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C.

New York Coronavirus Map and Case Count | The New York Times

Hazard Pay | US Department of Labor

Bonus pay for essential workers varied widely across states | AP News

The COVID-19 “Heroes Fund” Senate Democrats’ Proposal for Pandemic Premium Pay to Reward, Retain, & Recruit Essential Workers| Senate.gov

Grocery Employee Hazard Pay – LaborStandards | Seattle.gov

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