Hazard Pay Proposed for Essential Workers

Although thousands of Marylanders received COVID-19 vaccines in the battle against the novel coronavirus pandemic, frontline medical workers, grocery store clerks and other essential workers face high levels of exposure.

That’s why Sen. Malcolm Augustine (D-District 47) of Cheverly sponsors legislation for employers to provide hazard pay at $3 per hour for those workers with annual salaries of less than $100,000.

“They don’t have the ability to sit at home in front of a computer and collect a paycheck,” he said. “We literally depend on them to survive.”

A hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, Feb. 11 lasted about an hour and 50 minutes hearing testimony from Attorney General Brian Frosh among more than a dozen people.

“This bill will protect workers who are risking their lives to protect us,” he said. “Workers who are Black and brown and those who live paycheck to paycheck are overrepresented among essential workers [and] overrepresented among victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not enough has been done to protect them.”

The bill, called the “Maryland Essential Workers’ Protection Act,” would also provide essential workers with free personal protective equipment, 14 days of paid health leave and three days of bereavement leave to


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