Gov. Tom Wolf announced the recipients of $50 million in grants to help employers provide hazard pay to employees in life-sustaining industries during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, announced last month, was created to keep front-line employees working in vital industry sectors across Pennsylvania.
“Pennsylvania’s front-line workers put themselves and their loved ones at risk each day they report to work to ensure the continuation of critical goods and services for their communities, and hazard pay is an important opportunity to compensate these vital workers,” said Wolf. “It is undeniable that COVID-19 has put incredible stress on Pennsylvania’s economy, health care system and workforce, and my administration is committed to supporting our businesses and communities as we continue to navigate this global pandemic.”
Created through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, this reimbursement-based grant is available to employers offering hazard pay during the eligible program period and will be administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).
Grant funds can be used for hazard pay for direct, full-time and part-time employees earning less than $20/hour, excluding fringe benefits and overtime for the 10-week period from Aug. 16, through Oct. 24. Employers applied for up to $1,200 per eligible full-time equivalent (FTE) employee, up to 500 eligible full-time equivalent employees per location.
The program was developed in consultation with the General Assembly, Department of Health and the Department of Labor & Industry and in accordance with the Worker Exposure Risk to COVID released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
During the two-week application window, the administration received more than 10,000 applications totaling nearly $900 million, of which more than 5,000 businesses requesting $300 million were eligible. Of those, 639 employers were awarded $50 million in allocated funding, supporting a $3 per hour increase in pay for 41,587 workers across the seven eligible industries:
- Health Care – 63.5 percent ($31.75 million)
- Food Manufacturing – 7.2 percent ($3.6 million)
- Food Retail – 8.2 percent ($4.09 million)
- Social Assistance – 12.6 percent ($6.3 million)
- Janitorial – 3.7 percent ($1.84 million)
- Transportation – 1.2 percent ($592,000)
- Security – 3.6 percent ($1.8 million)
The funding awarded yesterday builds on the programs Pennsylvania has developed to allocate CARES Act funding for impacted businesses across the commonwealth, including $225 million for Small Business Assistance, $40 million for the dairy industry, $20 million for cultural organizations and museums, and $10 million for the Fresh Food Financing Initiative.