coronavirus in connecticut

Program for $1,000 ‘Hero' Pay for Essential CT Workers to Launch This Week

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Up to $1,000 in pandemic pay will be available for eligible, private-sector essential workers in Connecticut who were employed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was a soft launch on Friday and the website for applications went up that morning. While there has been significant interest in the program, officials from the office of the state comptroller said there is more behind-the-scenes work to be done to accommodate that level of demand before the program officially kicks off.

“There is a great need and demand for this Premium Pay program - and I’m looking forward to officially launching the program later this week. The Premium Pay program will provide much-deserved relief to Connecticut’s essential workers," State Comptroller Natalie Braswell said in a statement. "Until the program is officially launched, users attempting to apply may experience delays or errors as the application portal continues to undergo testing and development to accommodate the large number of expected applicants."

The $30 million Premium Pay Program will officially kick off this week. To be eligible, workers must have earned $149,999 annually or less.

Braswell said the application website went live as an unofficial soft launch on Friday morning to test its functionality.

"However, the volume to the site over the weekend was tremendous, and many attempting to apply have not yet been able. As my team works with external vendors to ensure increased capacity and prepare for the expected surge of visitors, I ask essential workers to be patient and wait for the official launch of the program so that they receive the best user experience and any corresponding customer support they may require," Braswell added.

The program is not first-come, first-served, the state comptroller’s office said. Any eligible worker has until Oct. 1 to apply. Total amounts will be determined at that point and payments will begin to go out.

The state comptroller’s office said the hundreds of people who successfully completed an application do not need to take any further action unless they’re contacted for additional documentation or clarifications on their submission.

“My apologies to anyone that has encountered issues over the weekend and is frustrated by the experience. After the program launches, my staff and I will be traveling the state to make sure every eligible worker is aware of the program and what they need to do to apply,” Braswell said in the statement.

: Can you provide an example of how the payment amount is calculated?

How Payments Are Calculated

Full-Time Employees

  • $1,000 if you earned less than $100,000
  • $800 if you earned between $100,000 and $109,999
  • $600 if you earned between $110,000 and $119,999
  • $400 if you earned between $120,000 and $129,999
  • $200 if you earned between $130,000 and $149,999

Part-Time Employees

  • $500

Note: If the amount in the Connecticut premium pay account is not sufficient to fully fund all approved applicants according to this formula, then all approved applicants' payments shall be reduced proportionally.

Payments will be made in early 2023 after submissions of all applications.

Funding for the initiative was included in the new state budget approved by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly and Gov. Ned Lamont earlier this year.

Sometimes dubbed “hero pay,” the funds will be distributed to critical workers such as grocery store employees and non-government medical staff who were on the job between March 10, 2020 and May 7, 2022 and unable to work from home.

Union officials in Connecticut have said more money is needed to compensate all of the essential workers who risked their lives during the pandemic. The Connecticut AFL-CIO, an umbrella federation of unions, voted last year to recommend roughly $218 million in unallocated federal pandemic funds be spent on pandemic pay.

The Premium Pay Program is one of two state initiatives created to help essential workers. A separate $34 million Connecticut Essential Worker COVID-19 Assistance Fund is also available to help those who lost wages and faced out-of-pocket medical expenses and burial costs due to COVID-19. Nearly $560,00 has been distributed so far, as state officials try to spread the word about the program.

The link is posted on the Premium Pay Program website.

NBC Connecticut and Associated Press
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