Are you working in a mining site or on a construction site? Are you doing work by a highway? If your work involves discomfort and any risk to your life that cannot be alleviated by protective devices, you may ask your employers for hazard pay. This is a form of compensation to make up for the danger involved in one’s workplace.
On construction sites, for example, employees are asked to wear safety vests to protect them from the danger involved in working there. Most of these work sites can cause serious injuries and even death to the workers. The hazard pay is compensation for that kind of risk that the workers take every single day.
How Much Is Hazard Pay?
In the U.S., hazard pay is not mandated by federal law. This means that an employer can choose not to compensate workers for the type of work that they do. This regulation, of course, depends on where you live. Other countries may have laws that govern hazard pay.
Generally, employers add a 10% premium on top of your basic hourly wage as hazard pay. If your basic pay is $20 per hour, you will get an additional $2 for every hour you work under hazardous conditions. This also applies if the workers are eligible for overtime work. The overtime pay will be computed based on the basic salary, then the hazard pay will be added on top of that.
Do note, however, that hazard pay will only be applied to the hours you will work under hazardous conditions. Engineers, for example, can do office work for four hours and construction work for another four hours to complete their eight-hour shift. They will only be eligible for hazard pay on those four hours they spent on the construction site.
Some employees may also choose to pay one-time hazard pay of $250 a month, regardless of the amount of time their workers spend under hazardous conditions. This varies per employer.
Which Work Conditions Are Considered Hazardous?
While there is no exact definition which working conditions are considered hazardous, the common acceptable sites are war zones, healthcare facilities (especially those working in laboratories handling chemicals and specimen), mining, construction, and those working in extreme weather conditions.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following jobs have high fatality rates: construction workers, electricians, steelworkers, garbage collectors, farmers, pilots, logging workers, roofers, and truck drivers. Of course, people serving in the military, police, and fire stations literally put their lives at risk every single day.
How to Ask for Hazard Pay from Employers?
Since hazard pay isn’t really addressed in federal laws, except as part of the computation for overtime pay, an employer can refuse to grant you this. However, employers also negotiate with unions through collective bargaining. They compensate union workers—and even non-union workers—with hazard pay.
If you are preparing to apply for a job in hazardous conditions, make sure to ask the hiring manager or your employer about their policies for hazard pay. If something happens to you in the course of doing your job and it has been proven that your employers have failed to discuss the risks involved in the work site, they can be held liable for the injuries you sustained. It is in the best interest of the employers to give you as much information as they can about the kind of work that you will be required to do.