As many states have called for social isolation measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 according to CDC guidelines, many businesses have closed their doors for the safety of the public and their employees. Grocery stores are one of two types of essential public establishments that must continue to operate. While other types of industry have been put on pause until further notice, employees of grocery stores must face large portions of the local population each day, and interact within close proximity. These employees are facing a much higher level of exposure than the rest of the population, on all seven days of the week.
While New Seasons Market has been seeing record breaking sales within each of their locations in most recent weeks, we employees are asking for the benefit of hazard pay, at the rate of at least $2 extra per hour or more, from now until the time this public health crisis subsides. Hazard pay is a good start for compensating employees for the very real risk they face every work day. New Seasons would be setting a good example for other grocery companies with employees who deserve the same benefit, as Whole Foods and Market of Choice have already done.
Why is this important?
Employees are experiencing elevated anxiety and fear as they continue their regularly scheduled shifts at the eye of the pandemic storm, especially those who are considered at-risk. Hazard pay would go a long way in terms of increasing morale and knowing their employers recognize the hard work and health risks they face amid this global crisis.
According to the UN, hazard pay is “a form of compensation granted to staff members who have been requested to remain and report for work in duty stations where very hazardous conditions, such as war or active hostilities, prevailed and where the evacuation of families and nonessential staff had taken place.”