San Mateo requiring large grocery and drug stores to provide hazard pay to workers

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San Mateo City Council unanimously passed an emergency ordinance Monday that requires large grocery and drug stores to provide their non-salaried essential employees with at least $5 per hour in hazard pay on top of their current base wage during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ordinance additionally requires four hours of paid leave for employees to get vaccinated.

The ordinance applies to chain stores in the city operated by companies with over 750 employees nationwide, including Whole Foods, Target, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Safeway, Smart & Final and Chavez Markets. The ordinance does not apply to franchisees and is set to expire in 120 days, which the city believes will provide enough time for the covered employees to be vaccinated.

The city says hazard pay is needed to support essential employees who put their health at risk while on the job. Most hazard pay employers have provided during the pandemic have ranged from $1 to $2.50 and have occurred from March through July. Some stores have since shifted to periodic recognition bonuses, city staff said.

San Mateo joins a number of California cities that have moved since December to require hazard pay for essential grocery workers while COVID-19 case rates put them at higher risk, including Berkeley, Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Jose, and San Leandro.

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