As Pandemic Persists, Healthcare Hazard Pay Proliferates

By Thomas Crocker
Friday, September 10, 2021

Faced with shortages of physicians and nurses, healthcare practices and health systems may find candidates increasingly inquiring about hazard pay.

Thirty percent of frontline healthcare workers have considered leaving the field, according to the 2021 Kaiser Family Foundation/Washington Post Frontline Health Care Workers Survey. The same survey found that 59% of hospital employees and 53% of office or clinic employees think their employer has fallen short on providing hazard pay. Some healthcare organizations are trying to change that narrative.

To recruit or retain clinicians and nurses, some organizations are offering sign-on bonuses or extra pay in recognition of employees’ service during the pandemic. One example is Penn State Health, which is offering $15,000 signing bonuses to seasoned nurses, according to Becker’s Hospital Review (BHR). BHR also reports that Baylor Scott & White Health is giving employees a $500 pandemic bonus.

The issue of hazard pay for healthcare workers has caught the attention of lawmakers. During the 2021 California legislative session, a bill known as the Health Care Workers Recognition and Retention Act proposed awarding full-time healthcare workers $10,000 in “hero pay.” Employees would have received the bonus in four, $2,500 installments throughout 2022. Hospitals and business groups opposed the bill due to its $7 billion cost, according to the Los Angeles Times, and the proposal did not pass the California State Assembly, the legislature’s lower house.