Romney proposes temporarily raising pay for essential workers amid pandemic

Romney proposes temporarily raising pay for essential workers amid pandemic
© Greg Nash

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyVoting rights and Senate wrongs Biden says minorities will vote no matter how hard GOP makes it The Memo: Is Trump the GOP's future or in rearview mirror? MORE (R-Utah) proposed legislation on Friday to temporarily provide a pay increase for essential workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposal, which Romney called "Patriot Pay," would provide a bonus of up to $12 per hour, or $1,920 per month, in May, June and July.

“Health care professionals, grocery store workers, food processors, and many others—the unsung patriots on the frontline of this pandemic—every day risk their safety for the health and well-being of our country, and they deserve our unwavering support,” Romney said in a statement. “Patriot Pay is a way for us to reward our essential workers as they continue to keep Americans safe, healthy, and fed."

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According to an outline of the proposal from Romney's office, the Labor Department and Congress would designate the specifics on who would qualify for the hazard pay, but it would include industries like hospitals, food distributors and health care manufacturers. Employees would have to work at least 100 hours per month to be eligible, and the employer would have to certify that they worked in conditions that increased their risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

The measure would provide a $12 per hour temporary pay increase to individuals making up to $50,000 per year before being scaled down through an annual income of $90,000 per year, at which point it would be phased out altogether.

The idea of hazard pay has been floated by members in both parties as they've laid out potential provisions to be included in the next coronavirus relief package.

Senate Democrats introduced their own proposal last month to give doctors, nurses and other essential workers, such as grocery store clerks, up to $25,000 in hazard pay, which would amount to a $13 per hour raise.