When working in a career where hazardous duties or physical labor is involved, employees may be given hazard pay which is an extra form of compensation. Those willing to risk their physical, emotional and psychological health for the job are eligible for hazard pay. Typical professions that may qualify for hazard pay are airline pilots, nurses, commercial divers and construction foremen.
What is Hazard Pay?
According to the United States Department of Labor, hazard pay is additional pay for employees who perform hazardous duties or work involving physical hardship. When a company cannot properly alleviate extreme physical discomfort or distress from high-risk duties, hazard pay can be obtained. Types of duties that qualify are those that are performed under circumstances in which an accident could result in serious injury or death.
How Does Hazard Pay Work?
Hazard pay is generally in addition to an employee’s regular salary or hours. Currently, there are no mentions of hazard pay in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and no standards are outlined for hazard pay in regards to payment amounts or what kind of work environments qualify as hazardous. FLSA only mentions the requirement that hazard pay be included as part of a federal employee's regular rate of pay when calculating overtime pay.
Typically, when a new employee qualifies for a hazardous job they will sign paperwork recognizing the circumstances and indicate that they agree to the terms and conditions outlined by the employer in the documents. While there are no laws or regulations as to what classifies a hazardous work environment, some types of conditions that may be deemed hazardous are:
- War zones
- Healthcare facilities
- Mining sites
- Construction sites
- Work sites in extreme weather
For those interested in pursuing a job that may include some dangerous or hazardous work environments, the Bureau of Labor Statistics compiled a list of the top 10 jobs with the highest fatality rates. These jobs are important to note when searching for jobs. They are as follows:
- Logging workers
- Refuse collectors
- Truck drivers
- Electrical power-line installers and repairers
- Construction workers
How Much is Hazard Pay?
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, there are no federal laws that mandate specific hazardous duty pay; rather it is the law of supply and demand. However, if an employer does provide hazard pay, it is determined by a percentage of the employee’s base pay. Some companies will use the danger pay rates established by the U.S. Department of State to determine hazard pay rates.
Typically, hazard pay is not given when an employee is on a paid or unpaid leave of absence. Hazard pay rates will continue when the employee returns to work. Individuals who can remain calm and focused under pressure and in stressful work situations will find jobs associated with hazard pay a good fit, but must also weight the risks involved with the occupation.