Hazard Pay FAQs

General FAQs

What is the City of San Mateo Hazard Pay Ordinance?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, grocery and drug store workers in the City of San Mateo have continue to provide essential services despite the ongoing hazards and dangers of being exposed to and infected by COVID-19. Their work and dedication help to ensure residents throughout San Mateo have access to necessary food during the pandemic.

The San Mateo City Council adopted an emergency ordinance to compensate employees of large grocery and drug stores for the clear and present dangers of doing their jobs during the pandemic. The ordinance requires employers of grocery and drug stores that have more than 750 employees nationwide to pay the City’s hazard pay to its hourly employees. The ordinance went into effect on March 1, 2021.

What is the hazard pay in the City of San Mateo?

Hazard Pay is an additional $5.00 hourly wage for all hours worked at a grocery store or drug store on top of an employee’s base wage or holiday premium wage. Employers must also provide hourly employees 4 hours of paid time off to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Who does the City of San Mateo Hazard Pay Ordinance apply to? 

The ordinance applies to businesses within the City of San Mateo with more than 750 employees nationwide that are grocery stores, drug stores, or retailers with more than 10% interior space dedicated to the sale of household foodstuffs. Employers must pay to each employee the additional hazard pay.

In the City of San Mateo, the employers affected by the policy are CVS, Rite Aid, Safeway, Smart&Final, Target, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, and Whole Foods.

Is hazard pay still required if employees already receive an additional wage – such as a “Thank You Wage,” “Hero Pay,” or other bonus wage –  for working through the pandemic?

Employer-initiated hazard pay can be credited against the additional $5.00 per hour paid to each employee. For example, an employer offering $2.00 per hour in employer-initiated hazard pay owes an additional $3.00 per hour in hazard pay. Employers are not credited for past payments. Nothing prohibits employers from paying more than the five dollars in hazard pay.

Does the City of San Mateo Hazard Pay Ordinance apply to employees who are under the age of 18?

Yes, there is no age limit for eligibility.

Do I have to pay the hazard pay, even if the employee is part time?

Yes, the Hazard Pay applies to any hourly employee regardless of the number of hours worked in a pay period.

Are salaried employees exempt from the City of San Mateo hazard pay requirements?

Yes, salaried employees are exempt from this requirement.

Does the City hazard pay apply to employees who work in San Mateo, but are not San Mateo residents?

Yes, any person who works for a covered employer, is eligible for the Hazard pay.

Employer FAQs

What else besides paying the City of San Mateo Hazard Pay to employees am I required to do?

Employers must post the Hazard Pay Official Notice in the workplace, informing employees of the rate and their rights. Employers must also provide an electronic version to employees in the language they speak. Employers must provide their name, address and phone number in writing to employees at the time of hire. It is illegal to retaliate against any persons for exercising their rights protected under the ordinance.  

I pay for health insurance, vacation, sick leave and other benefits to my employees. Do these count toward the amount of the hazard pay paid to employees?

No, an employer may not use fringe benefits such as health insurance, vacation, sick leave or other benefits to offset or use as a credit towards the employer’s obligation to pay the City hazard pay.

My company is located in the City of San Mateo, but I have employees who work outside of the City of San Mateo. Do I have to provide hazard pay to these employees?

No, only employees who work within the geographic boundaries of the City of San Mateo are subject to the City’s hazard pay.

Can an employee agree to work for less than the City of San Mateo hazard pay?

No. However, employees that are subject to a collective bargaining agreement may agree through the collective bargaining process to work for less than the San Mateo Hazard Pay or to accept other benefits in lieu of the hazard pay.

How to Report a Violation & City Contact Information

What are the penalties for employers that do not pay the City of San Mateo hazard pay?

Violations of the ordinance may be prosecuted by the City in the same manner as any other violation of city law.  In addition, employees may sue their employers for violations of the ordinance.   If successful, employees may recover their attorney fees, payment of unpaid hazard pay with interest, and additional damages up to twice the unpaid hazard pay.   

Where can I get more information about the City of San Mateo’s hazard pay?

Visit the Hazard Pay Ordinance web page for more information or email jchen@cityofsanmateo.org or call the City Manager’s Office at (650) 522-7009.

Who do I contact if my employer is not paying Hazard Pay?

To report a possible violation contact: Jennifer Chen, Economic Development Manager City Manager’s Office, City of San Mateo, 330 W. 20th Ave., City of San Mateo, CA 94403 or jchen@cityofsanmateo.org