Republican senator Mitt Romney wants to ramp up hazard pay for frontline workers in the pandemic

Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx / APMitt Romney.
  • Republican Sen. Mitt Romney introduced a plan on Friday to temporarily increase the wages of healthcare workers and other essential personnel during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The plan would increase pay by $US12 an hour for essential employees earning under $US50,000 for three months.
  • “This is a proposal which I think is fiscally responsible but also recognises the additional risk that people are taking,” Romney told the Washington Post.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney unveiled a proposal to temporarily increase pay for healthcare workers and other employees deemed essential during the coronavirus pandemic on Friday.

Under the plan, the Utah senator and 2012 Republican presidential nominee wants to boost their wages by $US12 an hour for the next three months. It could add up to an extra $US1,920 per month,The Washington Post reported.

“This is a proposal which I think is fiscally responsible but also recognises the additional risk that people are taking,” Romney told the Post.

The increased wages would take effect on May 1 and end July 31. Those making under $US50,000 annually would qualify, and the amount would decrease going up the income ladder. Workers earning over $US90,000 would be exempted.

But it would still cover a broad chunk of the workforce.

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He pointed out that a laid-off worker receiving generous unemployment benefits under the emergency federal legislation could be earning more than essential workers. Many of them are low paid: The average hourly wage for a grocery worker, for example, was $US11.43 in 2018, data from the Labour Department shows.

“That’s not fair, number one,” he told the paper. “And number two, it would create an anomaly, of course, for people to be taking additional risk of their health and have someone else not working making more than they are.”

President Trump and Democrats back the idea of boosting pay for essential employees, but the White House hasn’t rolled out a plan of its own to do so.

Senate Democrats, though, introduced a plan last month to pay $US25,000 to each essential personnel across various sectors, including delivery drivers and and food workers.

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