Recently, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced the availability of $50 million in grant funding to provide hazard pay to employees in life-sustaining occupations during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The program, intended to keep frontline employees working in industries that are deemed vital to the Commonwealth, is being administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).
Businesses, healthcare nonprofits, public transportation agencies and certified economic development organizations that have employees performing work in one or more of the following industries are eligible to apply for the program:
Healthcare and social assistance (including hospitals and nursing homes)
Food retail facilities
Janitorial services to building and dwellings
Transit, ground passenger transportation, generalized and specialized freight trucking
Certain security services for the above mentioned industries
Funds from the grant must be used for hazard pay to eligible fulltime and part-time employees earning less than $20 per hour for the 10-week period from August 16 through October 24, 2020. The pay must be made to the employee over the 10-week period as a $3 per hour increase to their regular pay rate, and must be paid according to their regular pay schedule. It may not be withheld and/or paid in a later lump sum, nor can it be applied to any hours worked over 40 in a given week.
Recipients of the pay must be employed in Pennsylvania by an eligible employer operating within an eligible industry described above. The employees must be ‘frontline’ employees who are facing the hazards of COVID-19 and have continued to work through the governor’s March 19 business closure order as a life-sustaining business or one that received a business waiver. Employees teleworking from home are not eligible.
Applicants may apply for a grant of up to $1,200 per eligible fulltime equivalent employee (FTE) and up to 500 eligible FTEs per location. Funding is currently capped at $3,000,000 per applicant. Applications are being received until July 31 on the DCED website.
Evaluation will include the following criteria:
Risk of exposure by industry
Location and prevalence of COVID-19
Average hourly wage paid by the employer
The program’s intent is to provide hazard pay to eligible employees who have responded directly to or faced an increased risk of COVID-19, therefore applicants for the program will be prioritized by industry in accordance with the Worker Exposure Risk to COVID-19 released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Lastly, applicants must make the following certifications under penalty of perjury:
Employers pay employees, at least, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
Employers are paying the employer share of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act for the hazard pay.
Employers follow Center for Disease Control guidelines, Department of Health regulations and guidance for reopening under the governor’s phased reopening plan to protect frontline employees from contracting COVID-19.
Employers are in compliance with all relevant laws, orders and regulations during the period of the COVID-19 disaster emergency under the governor’s proclamation dated March 6, 2020, and any and all subsequent renewals. The foregoing includes, but is not limited to, orders by the governor, secretary of health or other Commonwealth officials empowered to act during the emergency. Any noncompliant businesses will be ineligible for funding under this program and may be required to return all or portion of the funds awarded.
Have questions concerning the PA COVID-19 Hazard Pay Program? Contact a professional at Schneider Downs today.
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