San Francisco Joins Growing List of Localities Requiring Hazard Pay for Grocery Workers

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor

March 22, 2021

Local ordinances requiring grocery stores to provide frontline workers additional hazard pay to compensate them for the risks they face by working during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic took effect today in San Francisco and in King County, Washington.

They mark the latest in a series of hazard pay ordinances for grocery and, sometimes, drug store workers to be been enacted in recent weeks in more than a dozen localities, including Berkeley, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County and Oakland in California, and Seattle in Washington.

Typically, these ordinances require covered employers to pay an additional $4.00 or $5.00 per hour during a period of 90-120 days and/or during the course of the local health emergencies declared as a result of the pandemic. Penalties generally include back pay, attorney fees and fines of up to $50 per day, per worker.

Local media have reported that several grocery stores have closed as a result of these ordinances, including at least two owned by the Kroger chain, which called the Long Beach ordinance "misguided."

Business have challenged the ordinances in court, filing lawsuits in Seattle, San Jose and Daly City. So far, the hazard pay ordinances appear to be holding up. Last week, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed against Seattle by two industry groups. That decision has been appealed.