Proposed bill would give ‘hazard pay’ to teachers, staff, frontline workers

Local News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A new bill that may be pre-filed in Columbia later this year on behalf of frontline workers, teachers, and school staff which would allow all to receive ‘Hazard Pay’.

Representative Wendell Gilliard of District 111 explained that South Carolina is ‘behind the times’ when it comes to caring for their teachers and school staff. He said this bill will assist with keeping teachers in South Carolina facilities as well as additional frontline workers.

In accordance with the drafted bill, a frontline public employee is described as a person that is employed by a state agency or state institution. That could be a political subdivision of the State, or a public school district and who routinely works directly, in person with non-public employees in the course of their employment.

With the state operating in the black, that means they have the money for what Representative Gilliard said is the essential needs.

Right now the essential needs are in the area of our educators—South Carolina cannot stand by and watch us lose all this awesome talent to other states. We have to do what you know the other states have been doing for a long time and that’s paying them the value that they are worth.

Sc Rep. Wendell Gilliard / (d) Charleston

As for what they are worth, Gilliard said that all those in the schools are invaluable, but he would hope to provide them with one-and-a-half to two times their hourly wage as their Hazard Pay amount. Even asking that it would be retroactive after being passed through for those that have been working since the State of Emergency and Public Health Crisis began.

You know, they don’t need no more accolades, they don’t need no more pat on the backs—okay? You know—we know what the research is showing us, it’s the fact that teachers are leaving. The fact that most of our frontline workers have to, you know, provide for their families, for themselves. They have to have two to three jobs—they’re being gentrified—they have to go at a distance away from their jobs—things along that line. So we’re going to have to take steps to offset that.   

Sc Rep. Wendell Gilliard / (d) Charleston

The drafted bill specifies both a State of Emergency or Public Health Crisis which would entail both the pandemic and ‘Acts of God’, such as a hurricane.

If passed through the floor and enacted into law by the Governor—it would go into effect almost immediately.

Rep. Gilliard said the bill is waiting to be pre-filed. He will do so once the Speaker of the House sets a timeline for lawmakers to pre-file their bills later this year.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story noted that State Superintendent Molly Spearman said she would consider the bill. Instead, Rep. Gilliard discussed the bill with Spearman, but neither she nor the South Carolina Department of Education has seen a copy of the bill.

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