public-policy newsletter

Rewarding Service: How Human Service Workers Can Access ARP Funded Premium Pay

August 12, 2021

By John Maki, Alliance for Safety and Justice

Signed into law on March 11, 2021, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan represents an unprecedented opportunity not only to respond to the public health crisis and economic impact of COVID-19, but also to invest in the programming and infrastructure that our country needs to help create a more just and equitable society.

An intrinsic part of the American Rescue Plan’s vision is to reward essential workers who have protected “the health and wellbeing of their communities” with “premium pay.” As defined by the Department of the Treasury’s Interim Rule, which is the federal guidance for the American Rescue Plan’s State and Local Recovery Funds, premium pay is additional income that can be paid for by these funds of “an amount up to $13 per hour in addition to wages or remuneration the worker otherwise receives and in an aggregate amount not to exceed $25,000 per eligible worker.”

In “Rewarding Service,” the Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ), a multi-state criminal justice reform organization, breaks down what nonprofit human services organizations need to know to determine if their workers are eligible for premium pay and how to advocate for this relief.

It is important to emphasize that the American Rescue Plan authorizes, but does not require, state and local governments to use their Recovery Fund allocations to offer premium pay.  That being said, the American Rescue Plan’s definition of premium pay eligibility perfectly describes the work of nonprofit human services. During the pandemic, the frontline staff of human service organizations have gone above and beyond their normal work. Throughout the country, as many organizations have suffered funding cuts, human service staff have risked their own health and safety to serve as frontline workers, mediating conflicts and preventing violence, responding to crisis mental health needs during the pandemic, delivering food, PPE, and other essential services to people who lack access to vital resources.

In this time of unprecedented crisis, nonprofit human services have been the backbone of their communities. The American Rescue Plan was passed and signed into law to recognize and support this essential work. Human services frontline staff deserve to be compensated with premium pay.

To learn how your organization can advocate for American Rescue Plan funded premium pay, please see ASJ’s new report. For more information on how the American Rescue Plan can support human services, see ASJ’s “The American Rescue Plan: Seven key takeaways” and “The Promise of the American Rescue Plan.”

If you have any questions about ASJ’s federal work, including premium pay, feel free to contact John Maki.

About the Author: John Maki is the Director of Innovations at the Alliance for Safety and Justice. In his role, John partners with government leaders, elected officials, non-profit organizations and communities to develop effective implementation strategies for criminal justice and victim services policy reforms ASJ drives in states across the country. He also leads the development of ASJ’s federal policy agenda.