Schumer proposes up to $25,000 in hazard-pay for essential workers as part of phase 4 bill

TheHill reports Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats are proposing to give doctors, nurses and other essential workers, such as grocery-store clerks, up to $25,000 in hazard pay as part of the phase-four coronavirus relief bill.

The bonus pay, which would amount to a $13-per-hour raise, would also go to truck drivers and janitors, who Democrats say are also essential to keeping the health care system and economy running during the crisis.

It would stretch from the start of the public health emergency to the end of the year.

“As the COVID pandemic has reached alarming new levels, our health care system is strained to the max, our economy is strained to the max. Doctors and nurses, medical personnel of all types are putting their lives on the line every single day to fight this disease and save others,” Schumer said on a conference call introducing the proposal.

“And so are people not in the medical profession but in essential services: grocery store workers, truck drivers, drug store workers and pharmacists,” Schumer said. “For these Americans, working for home is not an option. Social distancing is not an option.”

“We’re calling it a ‘Heroes Fund’ because that’s who it’s for, our heroes,” he added.

The Democratic leader clarified the hazard pay would apply retroactively “to those already working on the front lines.”

The benefit would be capped at $25,000 for workers earning less than $200,000 per year and at $5,000 for those earning more than $200,000.

The “Heroes Fund” would provide funding directly to eligible employers so they could then distribute the premium payments.