Tester Leads Call for Hazard Pay for VA Employees on the Front Lines of the Coronavirus Pandemic
“Given VA was appropriated more than $19 billion in the CARES Act for the COVID-19 response, we urge you to implement hazard pay for VA health care employees regardless of current incentives”
In response to outreach from Montana constituents, U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) are leading 17 Senate colleagues calling for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hazard and retention pay policies for clinical employees involved in the COVID-19 response.
In a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, the Senators encouraged VA to remove arbitrary caps on retention incentives and implement hazard pay to support VA staff.
“We remain concerned to hear reports that VA frontline medical employees still do not feel adequately supported to conduct their jobs safely – including having access to appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE),” the Senators wrote. “…VA’s recent PPE austerity measures risked the health of countless VA staff, and while PPE supply has since improved, essential staff are still in danger of exposure by reporting to work every day.
The Senators continued, “We will continue to advocate for hazard pay for workers on the front lines of this pandemic to recognize their service, bravery and risk in this unprecedented time. Given VA was appropriated more than $19 billion in the CARES Act for the COVID-19 response, we urge you to implement hazard pay for VA health care employees regardless of current incentives unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic they may also be receiving.”
At a Senate Veterans’ Affairs committee hearing last week, Ranking Member Tester urged VA to make itself an employer of choice for health care professionals. He stressed the critical need for VA to support current employees through retention incentives and hazard pay, in order to hire and retain talented professionals in the health care workforce.
Read the full letter to Secretary Wilkie HERE.