News Council offers support for bill providing additional COVID-19 pay for essential workers

The Providers’ Council has submitted testimony in favor of a bill that would increase pay for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, but expressed concerns that, as written, the proposed legislation does not also provide for additional funding from the state.

House Bill 4745, An Act providing hazard pay for essential workers in the COVID-19 emergency, calls for agencies to pay employees 150 percent of their actual earnings for any day they are
required to work outside their home. The Council supports this legislation in concept; the Council has long supported increased wages for human services workers, and has provider data to the Baker
administration that prompted state officials to start providing an additional $139 million for human services programs, with funding going toward staff wages, infection control,
personal protective equipment (PPE) and other staff supports.

 “We cannot speak highly enough of the job the community-based direct care workforce has done in the face of this pandemic. Direct care staff have spent countless hours working around the clock with clients in congregate care settings. Some staff working in the sector have volunteered to live at the congregate care settings where they work when there is a diagnosed Coronavirus case so they can continue to serve clients and not bring the disease home to their families. We see heroes in our sector every day – those who are putting others before themselves and are certainly deserving of additional pay,” the Council wrote.

“It is essential that our sector – which was in a workforce crisis before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Massachusetts in March – can pay employees doing this complex work a fair wage. We are concerned, however, that this bill, as currently written, does not include any funding mechanism. As currently drafted, this bill represents an unfunded mandate for community-based human services nonprofits that hold purchase of-service contracts with the state to provide care to residents on its behalf. Without additional funding from the state, human services programs that receive a majority of their funding from the Commonwealth and/or federal government would be unable to pay increased wages.”

Read the full testimony here:  Council Testimony on H4745

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