Pandemic Pay for Essential Workers About to Expire

Whitmer Presser Pic

Nursing home staff, home health aides, and other direct care workers will lose pandemic pay if Governor Whitmer and the state legislature do not come to an agreement on COVID-19 relief aid.

At least 50,000 workers will lose $2 an hour in pandemic pay if the democratic governor and the republican legislature do not act before the pay increase ends on Sunday.

An order issued by Whitmer last April gave the increase to some Medicaid-funded caregivers. In June, a bipartisan law extended that increase to nurses, nursing assistants and respiratory therapists in nursing homes.

Sherri Boyd, executive director of The Arc Michigan, an advocacy group for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, said inaction “would have drastic consequences,” especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Whitmer has proposed keeping the $2 increase for the rest of the year, noting that the workforce is plagued by low wages and high turnover.

Legislation pending in the Senate would extend the pay increase through June and boost it by 25 cents an hour. A House-passed bill does not include funding for the increased pay but could be changed during negotiations.