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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf Announces COVID-19 Hazard Pay Grant for Frontline Health Care Workers, Among Others, Making Less Than $20 Per Hour

Posted: 07/20/2020
Industries: Health Care

On July 16, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a new $50 million grant program to “help employers provide hazard pay to employees in life-sustaining occupations during the COVID-19 pandemic” (the “Grant Program”). The Grant Program allows eligible Pennsylvania-based employers to apply for grants of up to $3 million to provide hazard pay benefits to eligible employees (the “Grant”). A copy of the Governor’s Grant Program announcement can be retrieved here.

Under the Grant Program, entities which provide health care services, including education, development, and support for frontline health care workers, may apply for Grants to provide up to $1,200 per eligible employee (calculated at a hazard pay of $3.00 per hour) so long as the affected employee has worked continuously since Governor Wolf’s March 19, 2020 order regarding the closure of all businesses that are not life sustaining (or, alternatively, worked continuously in Pennsylvania for an employer who received a waiver under the now-defunct Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (“DCED”) waiver program), and the employer is in one of the following industries[1]:

  • Nursing and residential care facilities
  • Hospitals, including general medical and surgical hospitals, psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, and specialty hospitals
  • Ambulatory health care services, including physicians’ offices, dentists’ offices, other health care practitioners’ offices, outpatient care centers, medical and diagnostic laboratories, home health care services, and other ambulatory health care services
  • Social assistance programs, including child day care services, individual and family services, community food & housing, emergency and other relief services, and vocational rehabilitation services

Generally under the Grant Program, eligible employers may apply for up to $600,000 per location for up to 500 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, and up to $3 million (with certain exceptions where it may exceed such amount) in total across all locations. Employers with multiple locations may submit one Grant Program application for all locations.

The Grant Program has certain prerequisites including: applicants must certify that they regularly pay their employees at least the federal minimum wage; that they are paying or will pay the employer’s share of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) for hazard pay; and, the employer is in (and will continue to maintain) compliance with all applicable federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and state laws, orders, and other regulations during the COVID-19 disaster emergency period, and specifically during the Grant Program’s activity period (defined as the 10-week period from August 16 through October 24, 2020). A Grant awardee must submit a certification which lists the eligible “employee[s’] name, pay date, pay period covered, regular pay, government funded hazard pay, and description of duties related to hazard pay.”

The on-line Grant Program application can be accessed here. Applications to receive a Grant are due by July 31, 2020, and all successful applicants will be required to execute an electronic grant agreement within 30 days of receipt.

Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr’s attorneys regularly counsel health care providers in employment and regulatory matters, including federal and state COVID-19 related initiatives. For more information relating to the Firm’s Health Care Practice or COVID-19 regulatory guidance, please reach out to the authors of this article.

  1. The Guidelines also permit other non-health care sector based employers to apply for the Grant Program; e.g., food manufacturing and retail, janitorial and certain security services, and public transportation.
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