What is Pandemic Recognition Pay?
During the 2021 bargaining process, our team negotiated contract language that gives qualifying state workers additional compensation in recognition of the increased hazardous working conditions that some experienced during the pandemic. This was referred to as Hazard Pay at times during the bargaining campaign.
Who qualifies for Pandemic Recognition Pay?
Workers qualify for Pandemic Recognition Pay if they worked at least 480 hours under the following conditions between March of 2020 and June of 2021:
- Had regular close contact with others outside of their household (less than six feet);
- Had routine (more than 15 minutes per person(s) close contact with others outside of their household;
- Could not perform their job duties from home or another setting that limits the close or routine contact with others outside of their household.
Workers who meet the above criteria with 480 – 1039 hours will receive $1050
Workers who meet the above criteria with 1040+ hours will receive $1550
Workers who qualify for one of the payments above and also had 200 or more overtime hours during the same time period (March 2020 – June 2021) will receive an additional $575.
When should workers receive their Pandemic Recognition Pay?
State agencies started providing this payment to qualifying workers on November 1. At least two agencies – the Oregon Department of Human Services and the Department of Justice – did not issue checks during that time and should complete the process by December. We also know that many agencies are still identifying additional eligible employees, and those payments should be issued on December 1 or December 15.
What if a worker could technically perform their job at home, but due to inadequate internet access couldn’t work from home?
We believe that employees in this situation should qualify for the hazard pay. It may be that workers in this situation have to go through a grievance process because management may not be aware which employees were working in person for this reason.
Why was March of 2020 selected as the date to start calculating hours for Pandemic Recognition Pay?
March of 2020 was the date the Governor declared a State of Emergency due to the COVID-19 virus.
What if I believe I should have received Pandemic Recognition Pay, but didn’t receive the payment?
If you did not receive the payment and believe you should have, please take these steps:
- Check with your supervisor to see if there is a plan to issue you a payment and it just hasn’t arrived yet. If this is the case try to get confirmation on when the payment will be issued.
- You potentially will have to work with your agency’s human resources and payroll department if there are errors in your timecoding that need to be corrected.
- If you worked for another state agency during this time period, and worked hours that should count toward eligibility for Pandemic Recognition Pay, you will likely need to ask your current agency’s HR department to reach out to the other agency(ies) where you worked so they can confirm your hours and apply them to your situation.
- If you believe you qualify for payment, but your supervisor says you will not receive a payment, you should talk to a steward because we may need to file a grievance if you don’t get a payment you are owed. Our Union created a guide for Stewards on how best to handle these situations, so checking in with your steward is key. Don’t know who your Steward is or don’t have a Steward? Call our Member Assistance Center at 1-844-503-7348 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there a deadline to file a grievance or appeal the decision?
Generally, our Union has 30 days after becoming aware of a contract violation to file a grievance. In this case agencies are issuing payments on a rolling basis over time, and it is not always clear if a violation has occurred or a payment just hasn’t been issued yet. If you get confirmation from your supervisor that there is not a plan to issue you a payment, you should reach out to a steward or the Member Assistance Center as soon as possible to determine if a grievance should be filed.
What process was used to determine eligibility?
Individual agencies determined which employees were eligible for Pandemic Recognition Pay based on the contract language that we negotiated. Our Union has pushed back in instances where qualified groups of employees were being excluded from receiving Pandemic Recognition Pay, and have had success getting many employees added to agency lists.
State Agencies used a number of different processes to identify who was eligible, including timesheets. According to the Chief Human Resource Office, eligible hours were those coded as RG in OSPA for the applicable time period. In addition, the following codes were used to determine if an employee was eligible for the one-time payment based on overtime hours: OT, OTE, OTM, OTX, CDO, CTA, CTO, TCO, TEO, TTO, WEO, XSO. We also know that many employees did not have accurate time coding during the pandemic, therefore some mistakes in determining eligibility are likely.
What should a worker do if they believe they inaccurately coded their time during the March 2020 – June 2021 timeframe?
Workers who believe their time is not accurately coded should contact their manager.
Can a worker review their timesheets for the March 2020 – June 2021 timeframe?
Yes, agencies should provide an employee their timesheets at the employee’s request.
Will employees that worked during the pandemic but left state service before the Collective Bargaining Agreement was ratified (on August 31) receive Pandemic Recognition Pay?
No, employees who left state service before this agreement will not receive Pandemic Recognition Pay money.
If someone left state service before the contract is ratified or before their payment is made, do they still have a right to that money?
Employees, including returning seasonal workers, who are employed as of the date of ratification (8/31) are eligible for this payment if they meet the requirements. If a qualified employee is employed upon ratification, but leaves state service prior to the payments being distributed, they still have the right to the payment and should contact their manager or HR department if they don’t receive it.
If someone has moved out of the bargaining unit but was in the bargaining unit between March 2020 and June 2021, will they receive a Hazard Pay payment?
Our collective bargaining agreement does not cover management/unrepresented employees or employees represented by other unions, but it is our understanding that the state intends to offer this payment to qualifying unrepresented employees as well.
Will my time at another state agency be taken into account for this payment?
Your time at other state agencies should count toward your eligibility (if the hours worked meet the qualifications), however, your current agency may not automatically count these hours or be aware that you worked qualifying hours at another agency. You will likely need to ask your current agency’s Human Resources department to reach out to the other agency(ies) where you worked so they can confirm your hours and apply them to your situation.
Is there an income limit for me to receive the Pandemic Recognition Pay?
No. The amount is based on how many hours you were mandated to work in person.
Is Pandemic Recognition Pay taxed?
Yes, it is treated like normal income.