interview with author
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People Are Posting What 'Extra Pay' They Receive As Encouragement For Working During The Pandemic And Some Say It's Humiliating (Interview With Author)
Some essential employees are feeling angry that they’re risking their health and don’t get (enough) hazard pay or worthwhile extra rewards.
People Are Posting What 'Extra Pay' They Receive As Encouragement For Working During The Pandemic And Some Say It's Humiliating (Interview With Author)
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One of the things that the coronavirus pandemic made us realize is just how much we rely on essential workers—from healthcare professionals and supermarket employees to truckers and fast food workers. However, some essential employees are feeling angry that they’re risking their health and don’t get (enough) hazard pay or worthwhile extra rewards.

Twitter user Milkvamp shared that their best friend who works at Walmart received a thank-you note from management and some candy instead of getting extra pay or benefits. Milkvamp’s post got more than 113k likes, was reshared by 25k people, and started a discussion that went into detail about the topic. It turns out that it’s not a simple black-and-white issue. Some people pitched in with their own stories about unfair working conditions during the pandemic. However, one person pointed out that Walmart actually already gave some of its employees hazard pay (and is planning to do so again). While others argued that getting mad at managers who give out candy and who likely have no control over the overarching financial decisions that large companies make might be unfair.

Some companies like Target plan to extend wage increases for workers until July, but as a whole, employers are rolling back extra pay. Meanwhile, though Amazon had increased its employees' wages by 2 dollars per hour, this so-called extra 'hero pay' will end at the end of May. Scroll down for Bored Panda's interview about hazard pay with Dr. Eddy Ng, the James and Elizabeth Freeman Professor of Management at Bucknell University, as well as the author of the thread, Milkvamp.

Milkvamp told Bored Panda that their friend thought that the bag of candy was infantilizing. "It's not about the specific bag itself, that's not what I was upset about. It's the overwhelming narrative that giving them thanks is enough. People working at Walmart make poverty wages and often don't have healthcare. They have to work during the pandemic, they're not volunteers," Milkvamp relayed their friend's thoughts to us.

"Slapping a note saying thanks on a bag of candy is not wanted or necessary. What is necessary is paying Walmart employees like essential workers permanently after witnessing a world-changing event that proved our society desperately needs their labor to keep moving," Milkvamp's friend continued. According to the Twitter user, their friend is also not angry at his managers "for their (maybe misguided) attempt to help but at corporate who's response has been abysmal at best."

"While it is true that some large employers (e.g. Walmart) have provided hazard pay, many employers (Kroger, Target, Amazon) are now rolling them back," Dr. Ng pointed out that companies are putting a stop to extra pay. "Most are still not providing any additional pay for work that has been deemed as essential but also hazardous."

The professor pointed out that gestures like giving out candy to essential workers in place of hazard pay, if this is done as part of official company policy (instead of managers doing so on an individual level), are "simply disrespectful of the sacrifice that is asked of employees." He continued: "As the economy further contracts, there will be fewer employment opportunities, leading many employees to be unwilling to ask for hazard pay for fear of retaliation or diminished employment prospects."

Dr. Ng added that the US House of Representatives has passed the 'Heroes Act' which provides hazard pay. "But it still has to go through the Senate," the professor said. "Employee groups such as unions need to take a more proactive role in ensuring hazard pay is included in employee compensation. It is up to employer decency to offer hazard pay."

In an earlier interview with Bored Panda, Dr. Ng went into more detail about essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic, how lots of people are calling them heroes, and about hazard pay.

"Although we hear the term 'heroes' being used to describe many essential workers, the term is apt because they perform work that can bring harm to themselves and potentially their families," The professor said.

"Not all heroes are idolized or worshiped, but there is certainly an element of bravery and self-sacrifice here. Thus, the term hero is an expression of gratitude by the collective or community who are dependent on these essential workers. Since many of them are not being paid much or don't have a choice but to come to work, the term 'hero' also provides intrinsic motivation and fulfillment for these workers."

According to Dr. Ng, there's greater recognition of how critically important these workers are because our health, safety, and survival depend on them. "This gratitude will pass when the pandemic is over and things return to normalcy, thus it is important for us to recognize their contributions now," he said.

"Few employers (e.g., Cargill, Safeway) are providing better compensation but that also reflects a rapidly declining supply of labor (workers are getting sick) and employers enticing others to join the labor market," the professor explained. "Employers need to do more, such as providing the tools to perform these jobs safely. At the very least, they need to provide a pay premium ('hazard pay') when asking workers to perform work that can expose themselves to harm."

Comments (90)
The US really have a work ethics problem.
Jerry Mathers
I work for a multi-billion defense contractor in the aerospace business, my wife works in the same industry for a company based in the Netherlands. Due to the nature of our business, we were both deemed essential. Both companies had upper management and engineers working from home. Here is the difference: Her company- immediately upped OT pay to double time, set aside 1 Million to help employees affected, provided masks when it was recommended, provided $150 Uber eats credit for each employee, added 80 hours extra leave immediately, then added an additional 40 hours extra leave. My company initially told us we could owe them 80 hours from our leave (then added 80 hours if you got sick or were at risk), recommended we get masks but didn't require it (more on this later), encouraged us to work harder so as not to get OT, we got not 1, but 2 brown paper bag lunches with a dry sandwich, chips, and a pop as a thank you (we have a cafeteria on site that actually serves decent food).
FIGHT BACK! organize. Unionize. We *Have* to take the power back or the rich will exploit us and we will have no choice in the future. DO IT NOW.
Pretty Pangolin
These are awful. I know some folks say "Well, it's better than nothing." No. No, it's not. One Christmas, our parent company got everybody canned hams. Not bad, right? They gave hams to the Jewish employees too. And then we discovered these were all dented cans from the markdown cart. Next year we asked them to just give to a charity.
Freya the Wanderer
Candy, pizza parties and the like are dandy, but the best way to thank essential workers? Pay them a living wage! When CEOs draw ridiculously big salaries and get fat tax cuts from the Congress they own lock, stock and barrel, they have no business crowing about such empty gestures.
Whilst I wouldn't expect extra pay (as long as I got paid for the hours I actually did) if anyone gave me this I would be even more offended than receiving nothing, this says "we made a token gesture even though we know it's crap" and to me that hurts so much more :(
Tor Rolf Strøm
Whaaat!! Big, cynical corporations don't care about their employees!? WHODATHUNK
ulku tuna
giving food makes them look even cheaper than giving nothing. there is such thing as a bad gift, and snacks is one of them.
What the clueless powers that be in these companies don't understand is how these "gifts" are so much worse than receiving nothing at all. They are insulting and demeaning. They are literally treating working adults like small children. It is nearly as disrespectful as a literal slap in the face. "F" word all of them. Workers unionize now!
Paul Echere
I like the "I AM ESSENTIAL" rubber wrist band the most :D
"Why would you expect more from Walmart?" Because Walmart isn't beholden to voters and mired in red tape with decisions being passed through a political gamut for every single penny spent. The Walton family could literally decide to give every worker a thousand dollars today and nothing is stopping them. Actually, I did some googling and math, brace yourself: 1.5 million Walmart workers in the US, the Walton family's net worth is 190 billion dollars. They could give every single Walmart employee is the US $100,000 and still have forty BILLION left over.
I couldn't work for Amazon a lemonade packet?? I think I'd wait for bezos to leave one of his shareholder meetings and smack him in his fuckin face with the lemonade packet! Then piss on him and say here's your lemonade!!
Steve Cruz
This is the UGLY SIDE OF CAPITALISM. Capitalism is like a screwdriver, it can be useful or it can do horrendous things. Stores that remained open saw massive sales that cleaned out stores. Those who are harshing on managers obviously don't know that most retail managers barely make more than cashiers, and other than approving a refund, they don't have a lot of decision making power.
I fully understand why some employees ( in the USA mainly ) go nuts and start shooting their co-workers.
these guys literally put their life on the line to earn a living and basically survive, in the heart of this virus, and instead of getting actual money as payment, these idiots give them thank you notes and candy. How is a little thank you note and a bag of candy supposed to pay their rent and pay for groceries?
John Doe
Time to crack some anti-union skulls.
deanna woods
Even though the place I work at is a franchise, it's still owned by a single person and he is a fantastic owner. He is not just a boss, he is a friend. He invites all of the employees and their families to his farm property at July 4th for fireworks. He throws the entire staff a Christmas party. He buys the morning crew lunch on occasion. When my sister and I moved into our apartments, he got one of his farm employees to help us move the big items. He loaned my sister and I money until we get our income tax, and if an employee gets hurt on the job, he pays their hospital bills. Our entire team knows that we are appreciated because he does so much for us. However, this is not the case with all businesses and even though it's aggravating to not feel appreciated, it's not always possible to do something big. Like someone else said, not all managers can be that generous. Corporations have to keep the stockholders happy and that means they forget about the workers.
Liz Karsa
But by all means keep shopping via Amazon folks
Target extended extra pay until July, but they have been cutting hours. Team members are actually taking home LESS now. I started preparing when I heard about the outbreak in December last year, I bought masks and gloves and figured most essential items I need. I didn’t hoard water or toilet paper, hello! Water from tap and shower... if you really running out of TP. (Don’t give me “that’s disgusting” bs, you have had worse things in your mouth compare to poop in shower in emergency, especially you, Karen.) My question is... if I thought about advanced preparation, and none of any Target management in HQ thought about it, am I worth more than those unprepared CEO, CFO...??? It was total scrambling, no leadership, nothing! They even made you sign this fucking waiver from HR, if you want to wear mask, because it’s “comfort issue”. I am not kidding! Union.
I worked for Wal-Mart for 15 years. Yes, corporate can be a real pain most of the time and we knew that was where most of our problems originated. Anytime something was done for us as pictured in this article, it was done by our shift managers buying items out of their own pockets. My first store manager wanted to give all of the employees a gift for Christmas one year. So she bought about 300 coffee mugs and spent untold hours personalizing each mug with the employees' names and filling them with candy. It wasn't the gift that was important but the fact that she took the time to do it. I worked third shift (10PM-7AM). This manager would also come it at night and cook us huge breakfast buffet. Corporate, and not just WM's, needs to learn to take of the people and they'll take care of you.
Mad Mar
Thank the person wiping off the shopping carts. Or counting people in and out of the store. Or the cashier. Or the stock person. The letter carrier. The small gas station worker. The person bringing your food to the door. No one has to expose themself to this but we do to keep the world turning. We know the doctors and nurses the cleaners the accountants the schedulers and all the people they make a hospital run get thanks. The police. Emts. Fire. They get thanks. Thanks anyone working to make your life continue when you see them. 4-6-8 hr days exposed to it. Think and thank.
Nandy Nam
At least you got something ... my son works @Giant and he got NOTHING ... No pay rise for the "extra mil" or "difficult times" NOTHING AT ALL !
pusheen buttercup
I will say sometimes the wrong person gets blamed- but whoever's actually in charge of this crap- IF you CAN give hazard pay... please try. If not... probably the government's fault? who exactly, don't ask me. But yes, I think hazard pay should be a thing. If you can't, perhaps toilet paper, or masks- a grocery gift card. Something *important* that they might need. Do hospitals give gift cards??
I'm thinking that these are from the managers personally, since corporate executives have the store workers the shaft. I'm sure it is upsetting to most store managers to see thier staff getting taken advantage of, and tried on thier own to let them know that they are appreciated. I work in retail and our hazard pay ended today 5/31, but we received a notice today that they will be giving us a one time bonus for the month of June. I'm grateful that I work somewhere that takes care of its employees. We work hard and it's nice to know that we are appreciated.
Lana Jig-maker
If i was a boss, I would write one letter, and email it. "Dear Employees. Thank you for working during this mess. I won't be giving out little baggies of bite sized candy, or printing t shirts. Instead, I will be putting that money towards your checks. Bare with me, I'm trying to make good choices. "
Irene Walton
they got more than I got. I got absolutely nothing. I'm a in home care provider for mental health, most of my clients were taken off, but the ones I have left I worked through this whole pandamic
Andrea F
This is revolting...
Bettye McKee
This is why we still miss Sam Walton. He must be churning up the dirt in his grave. He would never done this to his employees.
DC Blythe
This is soooo sad it hurts. Cynical people making lots of money on regular people's work. And they don't even show proper appreciation. Disgusting.
The one signature is "Bacardi", isn't it?
Lindsey Judd-Bruder
I'm a night manager for a popular fast food restaurant in the US. I won't say which one, but think "hot and cool" and our famous mixed ice cream and candy treats, called something similar to "Snowstorms". Anyway, my franchise (not the company itself, though they may have instructed all their franchisees to do this, IDK) has actually given us hazard pay, $2 extra per hour, for those of us working 30 hours a week or more, and $1 per hour for those working less than 30 hours a week. It comes as an extra, smaller check, in addition to our regular pay. I feel very fortunate for this, and feel appreciated by my franchise. We've also been receiving a lot of tips, and we put them in a community tip jar. We (the management) have decided, at the store level, that when things open back up, we are going to throw a big pizza party (or something similar) or otherwise find some way to use this money, to further show our team members how much we appreciate all their hard work.
Dorothy Hutchison
Ocean state job lot charges every customer 2% to give to their employees. 2% isnt much but add it up with every customer. Why isnt the company doing it instead of the customers. Cheap bastards
Stick Man
Because some comments get down voted so fast and can't reply, I'm making another one. Places such as Walmart, target amazon all retail has a whole is a low paying and not respected job. This is known by everyone young and old. Not sure why people would be surprised that they aren't getting extra pay. They will treat you like crap during a boom, bust and death. If you're affraid of your health then talk to a manager to see if you can get laid off. Even by walking out, you may still get unemployment for unworkable conditions. This isn't going any where. The black plague is still around to this day. Oh and unions. People that love unions are ones that are not in them and the other are people that love to exploit them. I've worked for the most powerful union in the US. I worked 12 hour shifts. Of that shift most days I worked 4 hrs and made 64k a year before bonuses Was even told by all my counterparts to not work my self out of a job. Unions make prices skyrocket because of labor costs.
Prioritize workers and Unionize!
John Robb
What kind of people while making millions per hour, WalMart, Amazon, refuse to pay their People who make their company successful less than $20 per hour? Also, in Peoria, IL Caterpillar's CEO makes $17 million per year pays employees $22 per hour which is less than what is needed to support a family, buy a house, Car and send the Children to College. What are these High Flyers are doing with with $'s above $500,000 per year.? They are buying Assets. How much do they want? America is sliding down to a Conflict b/t the Millionaires/Billionaires and those that actually make America by making Products from nothing that is the real source of America's Economy. New Money.
Leslie Burleson
Wasn't relief pay part of the stimulus bill? I'm pretty sure it was. My daughter works fast food and got relief pay ... it was only $75 ... but she hadn't worked the first two weeks of quarantine , so that's pretty awesome. The company is Raising Cane's , and they are awesome to their employees
Lauren Morin
I work in health care. We've had our pay cut.
Half the people I see working at Wal-Mart and many other stores aren’t even wearing a mask.
Donna Cheung
I applaud people who continue to work during the Covid crisis, especially people who keep services such as supermarkets, eateries and transportation services running. These workers don't get extra pay where I'm from; they're lucky if they're not sacked because their shops have less business and can't afford (or can't be bothered) to keep them anymore. You're supposed to consider yourself lucky that you still have a job, is able to work from home. "Hazard pay" is unheard of.
I work for a small hardware store in an even smaller coastal community. In 6 months my boss gave me a $1 raise (rural California, this is a big deal!). After busting our butts f
Geoffrey Holland
Those candy and snacks were rescued from the to be disposed of / no longer sellable bin. What a bunch of cheap bastards. And $25 of free McDonald's food? I guess if you're really shity employee they give you $100 worth. Employee of the year doesn't get any.
Julz Brown
I work at a hospital as an EVS technician and i dont even gethalf the oay the nurses get .i could make more money being unemployed but im considered an essential worker who has to work and we don't get any raises ,bonuses or hazard pay .
Janice Blanton
Some hospitals have actually cut employees pay during this.
Mad Mar
I wouldn't mind a bag of candy or at least a pizza party for the 8/10 of us in my shop that have to handle customers items or companies items brought in for media blasting. We don't know if they are sick or carrying the 'vid. But we have to take it all in an work on it. No raises. Masks are basically bring your own, no actual n95s we need for dust and dirt protection. We gave those to the front liners. 99% of what we are working on isn't essential out there. Are your house radiators being cleaned and repainted essential? Maybe once a week some brackets or such from aerospace needs come in. I'm not essential. Only to my boss making money. No perk or thanks to me an my coworkers. I worry every day. For myself and family and friends. And I thank everyone in the stores for being there so I can shop when needed.
I refuse to buy from Walmart/Amazon. I buy from local stores. We ordered togo to support local restaurants. My husband & I have been fortunate enough to still have our jobs. He has to be at work but I get to work from home. I get $200 extra a month for working from home. Other people complain about $200 being too little for a big company but our business has dropped 70% and they haven't laid off a single person. I'm thankful for what we have. During this tough time, we can't be too picky nor expecting too much. Like I told my employees, just take what they give us. We're paying employees even though we don't have work.
This is a very bitter joke.
Missy Barton
This absolutely would have been my previous employer.
I got a $300 bonus but almost half went to taxes. So actually I got $170-ish bonus. Unfortunately I also got my hours cut so, yeah, that'll cover my rent.
Dippin Dot
I’m deemed essential, workin in beverage distribution. However I’m in the office. So I had to take a 20% pay cut since bars and restaurants closed and business was down. Got an email from the big-wigs saying they took a 15% cut. Then I was offered a promotion and get to negotiate my wages - guess who’s going to make sure I get my 20% back, and THEN some!!!
To any employer who pulled this kind of crap: fuck you and die in a fire. That goes double for the Waltons. To all employers who treated their people like people: bless you.
May Louw
At the end of the day it may seem like a slap in the face but it's better than being fired or let go without pay, benefits etc because the business has collapsed - the reality faced by millions worldwide right now. Myself included. Eat the sweeties and hope there will be more on the way - rather than a retrenchment letter or drastic pay cut. Or even the doors just being locked one morning!
Dorothy Hutchison
The only people making out are the unemployed. An extra $600. Now they dont want to go back to work.
wait, you actually got „something” for working during corona? I work for a big hotel company „M” and all we had recieved was 20% pay cut and 5/6 work time...
As long as people keep thinking they are working FOR a company they will never be appreciated, let alone change the system. YOU GIVE the company your (life) time, your expertise, your manpower and demand, at the very least, appropriate pay (good work environment and other stuff would of course be nice additions). You are doing the company a favour by working for them, not they are being nice for giving you a bit of money so you are practically their slave. I know the system right now makes most people easily replaceable, but also most people let themselves be replaceable. If no one would take on shit jobs, companies would have to change the way they are treating their employees
Devil's advocate: there's no such thing as "essential employees," only services. If I weren't in my job, someone else could easily do it in a heartbeat. I don't ask for anything extra than agreed upon in our contract, and I don't get it. That's the way it is.
Get a shitty job, receive shitty things.
Julie BT 120
If all essential workers received $10,000 bonuses, there would inevitably be some people who complain about it being wrong somehow, there will always be some who think they deserve more than what they get. Nothing is going to ever fully make up for the time/stress/extra work that essential workers have put in, so maybe a small gesture is the only thing that can be done for everyone?
Pandas w/ a crud-job, respectfully, I've worked 1000s of hours at min. wage including in a grocery store, mopped floors & scrubbed dishes in such gigs. I grew up middle-middle class. I assume most min. wagers are good people and want you to be happier. Yes, these employers don't really care about you despite their lip service. This is how they've always been & they won't ever change. Period. If you work at a crud-job and want something more for a career (and that employer isn't offering you mgmt. training) stop looking for a good career from them. They very likely won't give it to you. LOOK ELSEWHERE!! No college? No problem! Call cntr & warehouse: start at $13/hr, do good-get raises and one day $20/hr is plausible. Waiters & bartenders regularly make $40-$50k/yr. Home health aide: $15/hr. 'Nothing like that in my area.' You say? Then f***ing move to where better jobs are! There's also vocational & comm. colleges. I'm sorry they aren't giving you what you want. Don't get mad, get a better gig!
Daniel Lewis
I have never expected hazard pay or extra rewards when job conditions became difficult or even dangerous. When you accept a job, you also accept the pay that was offered for that job. If you don’t think the people are your workplace are getting adequate compensation, then change to a different job.
Private Custard
Agency worker here. After five years on a zero-hours contract, going above and beyond, winning contracts and getting shortlisted for awards, I got a bonus of no more job, with no notice. Luckily I'm still on the agency's books, so I get 80% pay from the govt, after that, I'm fucked. Be glad you got some sweeties with your still-existing job!
DKS 001
At least you get something. I work as a custodian for an international company (RICH!). We were almost laid off to "save money". But the customer (a large business) said they needed us. So we at least kept our jobs throughout this. As a bonus, I work nights. Night shift gets shit on for doing all the work, while day shift sits on their asses and gets all the credit.
This isnt war..your not on the front lines and you get to go home and see your kids every night...those that serve don't...think about that this memmorial day...if you hate buttmart then quit...soilders cant
Im sorry.,its a could have quit and still apllied for unemployment. Hell you would have made more money.
If you don't like the goody bag, give it to someone who will. Minimum wage was an issue long before COVID. Hazard pay is stipulated in the contract- if it's not there, you can't blame COVID. We are being paid to work. We are not getting increases this year (the alternative being retrenchment). Surplus funds for staff entertainment, lunches or team building have been donated to COVID organisations. I have a job- I will not complain. Everyone wants monetary recognition but it's not always possible (and it's taxable). I would be grateful if they even thought of doing something at all, and acknowledged that times are hard. There are people who have nothing- swap places with them and see their appreciation.
This was clearly a corporate decision that the individual managers had no say about. Get angry with the bigwigs, it's their doing. All of these people are being so ungrateful. Those goodie bags are better than a kick in the teeth.
what the fuck are you complaining about? at least you got "something"! you know what I got? a pay cut
This article is full of shit. Most of the above listed retailers have paid bonuses. Check the news sites
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