Compliant Hazard Pay Practices
Recently there have been several states where legislative efforts have been filed or legislation passed related to the provision of Hazard Pay for front line healthcare and public safety workers. In addition, there are suggestions that the next federal stimulus package may include provisions for hazard pay for those responding to this pandemic. While this financial relief would be incredibly helpful to those working on front lines, there are important considerations for employers to understand as they implement these pay measures.
Hazard Pay or premium pay is broadly defined as compensation paid to an employee for performing hazardous duty or work involving physical hardship. This can include work duty that causes extreme physical discomfort and distress which is not adequately alleviated by protective devices. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not directly address Hazard Pay. However, it is important for employers to know that the payment of Hazard Pay will impact the calculation of an employee’s regular rate of pay and the corresponding overtime compensation. As many EMS employers are already aware, the payments of differentials, incentive pay, or other premium compensation require a special “weighted” average overtime calculation. The United States Department of Labor provides a Fact Sheet which details how an employer must calculate an employee’s overtime when certain additional compensation, including Hazard Pay, is included.
We recognize that many EMS agencies are already aware of the impact different premium pays, such as shift differentials or bonuses have on an employee’s wage calculation. It is important that EMS employers know that amounts paid as Hazard Pay must be handled similarly. If your organization utilizes a payroll service, often they can provide assistance to ensure the calculation is accurate. I suggest strongly that you perform a random audit to ensure that the payroll software platform is calculating the wages correctly.
Please be sure to contact the American Ambulance Association if you have questions or need further clarification regarding compliant Hazard Pay practices.