Gov. Tom Wolf announced the recipients of the $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 frontline employees working in vital industry sectors across Pennsylvania.
“Pennsylvania’s frontline 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.”
Recipients in Bucks County include Briarleaf Nursing and Convalescent Inc., Brookdale Senior Living Communities, Inc., Community Welfare Council of Newtown/Pickering Manor Home, Greenleaf Nursing and Convalescent Inc. and Silver Home Care. A full list of awardees is available here.
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.
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 employee, up to 500 eligible full-time equivalent employees per location.
The program was developed in consultation with the General Assembly, Department of Heath and the Department of Labor & Industry, and in accordance with the Worker Exposure Risk to COVID released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
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 – 63.3 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)
To address the demand and make equitable decisions on funding of these limited dollars, and to ensure that the funds were distributed in a way that reaches each eligible industry, additional factors were taken into consideration for final determination of awards, including the amount of dollars requested within each industry category; the risk level, in accordance with the OSHA Worker Exposure Risk; wage level of industries and occupations; and availability of other federal relief opportunities.
“The demand for this program indicates the need for additional funding to support these critical frontline workers, who selflessly helped their fellow Pennsylvanians through the toughest times of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wolf. “I support the Heroes Fund, in the bi-partisan Federal HEROES Act, which would provide $200 billion in hazard pay to life-sustaining workers. My administration is also open to working with the state legislature to allocate additional federal dollars toward hazard pay for additional workers and industries.”
“Today’s awards are a critical first step in acknowledging the ongoing strain the COVID crisis has placed on Pennsylvania’s heroic frontline workers. But there is so much more to do,” said state Sen. Maria Collett (D-Bucks, Montgomery). “That’s why we continue to urge our federal partners to swiftly pass the HEROES Act and provide Pennsylvania with the resources to support not only our frontline workers but also our small businesses, schools, the unemployed and everyone affected by this prolonged crisis.”