A group of Senators sent a letter to leadership at the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget with a list of demands they had for protecting federal employees from the COVID-19 coronavirus. Chief among the demands was a 25% pay bump for hazard pay for front line federal employees.
The letter was sent by 19 Senators to Russell Vought, the acting director at the Office of Management and Budget, and to Michael Rigas, the acting director at the Office of Personnel Management.
The Senators wrote in their letter:
We appreciate the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) guidance on recruitment, retention, and relocation bonuses in response to COVID-19, and we urge you to build on this by using existing hazard pay authority to provide a 25% increase in basic pay for employees in essential, frontline, or public-facing positions whose jobs cannot be accomplished while maintaining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) social distancing recommendations.
The lawmakers said they wanted the same for federal contractors as well.
The letter did not stipulate any conditions on the request, such as how long the hazard pay would remain in effect if it were to actually be implemented.
The Senators stated that federal employees who can telework should continue to do so. This demand also called for providing “flexibility so that employees can adjust their schedules without a reduction in pay to accommodate needs to care for children and family members.”
The letter addressed safety leave and effectively called for greater use of it amidst the coronavirus. “Agencies should receive clear criteria to make greater use of safety leave, including how to weigh costs and benefits in order to reach a determination,” read the letter.
A copy of the letter is included below.