At the urging of AFGE, a group of 19 senators from both sides of the aisle called on the Trump administration to use existing hazard pay authority to provide a 25% pay increase for federal workers on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.
In a May 5 letter to Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought and Office of Personnel Management Acting Director Michael Rigas, the senators said many federal employees work on the frontlines of the public health response and put themselves at risk of contracting the virus. They appreciated OPM’s guidance on recruitment, retention, and relocation bonuses in response to COVID-19.
“We urge you to build on this by using existing hazard pay authority to provide a 25% increase in basic pay for employees in essential, frontline, or public-facing positions whose jobs cannot be accomplished while maintaining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) social distancing recommendations,” the senators wrote. “The statute provides for hazardous pay differentials for duties involving unusual hazards that are not typical for the job, which certainly describes the current situation for many workers.”
Hazard pay is a main issue AFGE has been working on since many of our members are frontline workers during the crisis, including those working for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Bureau of Prisons, Transportation Security Administration, and many others. We have sued the federal government for hazardous duty pay on behalf of all federal employees exposed to the novel coronavirus.
The senators also urged OMB and OPM to be more aggressive in approving telework for as many workers as possible. For those who can’t telework, the administration should provide safety leave to help mitigate community spread within federal facilities and local communities since a lot of people rely on mass transit.
The senators urged the administration to make sure the employees have adequate personal protective equipment. Congress has already provided significant resources to address these needs across the country.
The senators called on the administration to work with employees and their unions to address the issues identified in this letter.
“Many of these workers are on the front lines of the COVID-19 public health emergency, and many more are keeping vital services running and implementing the relief measures recently enacted by Congress,” the senators wrote, adding federal workers “deserve our full support now more than ever.”