S.E. Williams | Executive Editor
New Year’s Day brought sobering news for Californians—COVID-19 was taking the life of one Californian every 10 minutes.
The sobering number of those afflicted with the coronavirus is overwhelming the healthcare system and exhausting its workers who risk exposure to the deadly virus each time they report to work. It is no wonder county officials worked with employee representatives to consider financial incentives as a way of acknowledging the risks and sacrifices these frontline healthcare workers are making.
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors is expected to give final approval to three labor related side-letter agreements to provide selected healthcare employees employed by the county with COVID incentive differentials. Approval of the side letters will authorize these incentives for three separate work groups beginning with the California Nurses Association (CNA).
The agreement with CNA will provide eligible registered nurses assigned to the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC) an extra shift incentive. Those eligible include nurses in Inpatient Assignments, Emergency Department, Trauma Unit, Dialysis, G.I. Lab and Cardiac Care Units. The agreement will exclude nurses who work in the Behavioral Health Unit and in non-inpatient areas such as case management, clinics, employee health, etc.
For Nurse Unit employees, an extra shift is defined as a shift that the nurse was not regularly scheduled to work during a pay period; while for Per Diem Nurse Unit employees, an extra shift begins once a nurse has exceeded six scheduled shifts during a pay period.
Nurses who work the extra shift shall receive a differential of $15 per hour for all hours worked during that extra shift. The differential, however, will not apply if the nurse calls off on one of their scheduled work shifts or takes an educational day during a pay period they have worked the extra shift. On the other hand, the incentive will apply when a nurse takes pre-scheduled vacation, holiday, PTO or other compensatory time and works an extra shift.
If these recommendations receive final board approval, the change will become effective with the pay period beginning Jan. 2, 2021. The incentive is set to expire June 4, 2021.
In addition to the extra shift incentive the county will also consider the approval of a COVID -19 Retention Incentive Differential (RID).
The RID would apply to the same group of nurses detailed above. With RID, these nurses will be eligible for a temporary additional pay of $500 per pay period beginning Jan. 2, 2021 for a period of three pay periods. The RID may be prorated.
Although RID is scheduled to sunset June 4, 2021, county officials will maintain discretion to continue the retention incentive after the three pay periods for some or all units/assignments designated by ARMC and in an amount “up to” $500 per pay period.
Incentives are also under consideration for Respiratory Care Specialists III and a variety of other Arrowhead Regional Medical Center healthcare employees including licensed vocational nurses, nursing attendants, assistant unit managers, respiratory therapists, etc. Compensation amounts vary based on job category.
S.E. Williams is executive editor for IE Voice and Black Voice News.