Private-sector essential employees who worked in Connecticut during the pandemic may receive up to $1,000 in premium pay (i.e., “hero pay”), through a $30 million fund established under the state budget approved by the General Assembly and Governor Ned Lamont.
To be eligible, workers must have earned less than $150,000 annually; must have been unable to work from home (i.e., had to report to work on-site); and had to be employed in an essential, non-governmental job between March 10, 2020 and May 7, 2022. Generally, whether an employee held an “essential” job is based on those categorized as such by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Specifically, workers from occupations listed in categories 1(a) and 1(b) of the CDC’s vaccination priority list as of February 20, 2021 are eligible although, according to the Connecticut Essential Worker Covid-19 Relief Program website, other positions may qualify. Workers employed in hospitals or other healthcare facilities, residential care facilities, funeral homes, cemeteries, educational facilities, grocery stores, first responder units, and some manufacturing facilities are among those that likely qualify for the funds.
Employees may apply through the Program’s website. The application deadline is October 1, 2022, with the funds scheduled to be distributed in early 2023. Employers are prohibited from disciplining, discharging, or discriminating against employees because they have filed an application for premium pay, as well as prohibited from deliberately misinforming or deliberately dissuading employees from filing an application for payment.