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Work and the Coronavirus

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Helping people understand how COVID-19 affects work and employment by sharing insights and help from ILR's workplace experts.

Who are the Frontline Workers? Why Does Hazard Pay Make Sense?

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By Francine Blau,

Frontline workers are disproportionately less educated and earn below average wages, according to an ECONOFACT analysis written by ILR Professor Francine Blau, Josefine Koebe and Pamela A. Meyerhofer.

The provision of hazard pay for frontline workers “may be merited both because of the risks they are taking by remaining on their jobs as well on equity grounds,” the authors wrote.

“Hazard pay could also help recruit workers into these jobs at a time when they are especially vital. This is especially the case given the generosity of the unemployment insurance benefit increase under the CARES Act which may leave some low-wage workers doing better collecting unemployment benefits than continuing their frontline employment,” according to the writers.

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