Mitt Romney is joining a group of Democrats calling for essential workers to receive hourly bonuses, with the Utah Senator proposing they receive up to $12 per hour extra for their work amid the coronavirus outbreak.
As The Week noted, the Utah senator proposed Friday that workers “who are necessarily subject to greater risk of COVID-19” receive a boost in their hourly pay. As the report noted, several Democratic senators had suggested that essential workers receive a raise of $13 per hour, to be paid retroactively to the start of the virus outbreak. Romney released a similar plan, showing there could be some bipartisan support for the idea.
Under Romney’s plan, which he called “Patriot Pay,” the increase would to go those in frontline and essential jobs, and would extend through July. A one-page summary of the plan released by Romney’s office said that the pay boost would be a way to better compensate those who are putting their health and safety at risk during the current pandemic.
“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 announcing the plan. “Patriot Pay is a way for us to reward our essential workers as they continue to keep Americans safe, healthy, and fed.”
As NPR noted, Romney’s plan would offer employers a refundable payroll tax credit in order to pay out the bonus to eligible employees, with the federal government picking up three-quarters of the pay and employers paying the remainder.
“This form of hazard pay would complement, not replace, an employer’s responsibility to pay their workers — it is designed to quadruple any bonuses an employer gives to essential workers,” Romney’s office said.
Earlier in April, Democrats in the Senate had released a plan for what they called the “Heroes Fund,” which would give a $25,000 premium pay increase for essential workers — which equated to a $13 per hour pay increase from the start of the coronavirus outbreak through December 31, 2020. It also had a $15,000 essential worker recruitment incentive in order to fill workforce needs during the public health crisis.
It is not clear whether either Romney’s plan or the one introduced by Democrats might pass. The U.S. Senate has passed a series of coronavirus relief efforts, including a one-time stimulus payment of $1,200 to adults, with $500 additional per dependent child.