Business & Economy

Applications for hazard pay grants to open Aug. 4

nurses at workstations inside UVM gym
Nurses work at a telecommunications center inside the medical surge facility at the UVM Patrick Gymnasium in April. Photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger

Public health care and human services employers that remained open throughout the Covid-19 state of emergency from March 13 to May 15, will be able to apply for hazard pay grants beginning Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott announced Monday afternoon that employers deemed essential during the heart of the coronavirus crisis can offer employees hazard pay for their time working on the frontlines in the spring. 

“Our frontline health care workers have done heroic work throughout this crisis, stepping up to serve their communities and the greater good, while putting their own health at risk,” Scott said in a statement. 

The $28 million Hazard Pay Program would allow employers to apply for funding to provide $1,200 or $2,000 in hazard pay to each employee who meets the specified eligibility criteria spelled out in statute. Factors include risk of exposure to Covid-19, number of hours worked and the employee’s hourly wage. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

In late June, the Vermont Legislature passed a largely scaled back version of the hazard pay program for essential workers that was passed by the Senate in May. 

House lawmakers had shrunk the program to $20 million from the Senate’s $60 million proposal. House members had raised concerns that the breadth of the upper chamber’s version might make it ineligible for the $1.25 billion in federal Covid-19 assistance funds — the source of funding for the program.  

In the final bill, the Senate increased the size of the program to $28 million and designated the federal funds only for public health, public safety, health care and human services workers.

The Senate had originally included frontline workers in a variety of industries including grocery store employees, health care workers, child care providers and nursing home staff. Many private sector workers, like grocery store employees, will not be able to receive hazard pay.

“It was with great unhappiness that we have — in spite of our pushback and best efforts — that we have been told that we cannot include many of those workers that we had wanted to include,” said Sen. Jane Kitchel, D-Danville, chair of the appropriations committee, at the time of the House’s hazard pay program.

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Employers that are eligible to apply for hazard pay grants beginning Tuesday include: ambulance and first responder services, assisted living residences, dentist’s offices, federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics — or clinics for the uninsured — health care facilities, home health agencies, homeless shelters, morgues, nursing home residences, providers of necessities and services to vulnerable or disadvantaged populations, residential care homes, residential treatment programs licensed by the Department for Children and Families, therapeutic community residences, and therapy providers contracted by a home health agency or nursing home.

Employers can apply using the online application by visiting the Agency of Human Services’ website at humanservices.vermont.gov.

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Kit Norton

About Kit

Kit Norton is the general assignment reporter at VTDigger. He is originally from eastern Vermont and graduated from Emerson College in 2017 with a degree in journalism. In 2016, he was a recipient of The Society of Environmental Journalists' Emerging Environmental Journalist award. Kit has worked at PRI's weekly radio environmental program, Living on Earth, and has written for the online news site Truthout.

Email: [email protected]

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