$1,250 pandemic bonuses approved for some county employees

Snohomish County workers deemed essential will see the bump in paychecks starting in late September.

EVERETT — Snohomish County employees deemed essential during the pandemic will soon receive $1,250 in premium pay.

On Wednesday, the Snohomish County Council unanimously approved criteria for selecting which staff will get the pandemic bonuses. Early estimates indicate about 1,500 will qualify.

Eligible workers should start seeing the bump on their checks starting Sept. 22, Ken Klein, a county executive director, said in an email.

County Executive Dave Somers proposed premium pay for county employees in early June.

Later that month, the county council passed an ordinance setting aside $2.5 million of federal relief money to pay for it.

In total, Snohomish County received about $160 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. Premium pay is one of many uses of federal funds that local governments are encouraged to consider.

On Wednesday, the council also approved $1,250 bonuses for essential pandemic staff with the Snohomish Health District.

“I’m just glad we could do this and acknowledge our hardworking employees in the health district,” council chairperson Stephanie Wright said. “They’re always there for us, but boy, we have leaned on them for the last 18 months.”

Council members set aside $150,000 for the public health agency’s premium pay, though it’s unclear how many workers will qualify.

For the county, the bonuses will go to people like sheriff’s deputies, corrections officers, road crew workers, human services specialists and park rangers, as well as Snohomish County superior and district court employees.

Employees must have worked for at least six months between March 23, 2020 and July 5, 2021, with some time spent at the office and in a department that interacted with the public. Both part-time and full-time employees qualify, as long as they worked at least 20 hours per week.

The money is taxed as income and would come to employees through installments, under the proposal.

Employees exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) would receive two payments of $625, spread over two pay periods. FLSA non-exempt employees would receive an extra $8 per hour (or $12 per hour for overtime) for every hour worked in September and October, until they reached $1,250.

The same criteria will apply to health district employees.

The council on Wednesday also unanimously approved an ordinance that provides differential pay for county workers deployed in the military.

In many instances, a deployed employee’s military salary is lower than what they received in their regular line of work. Now, the county will cover the difference for its deployed staff.

“The last thing I want to worry about is financial security while I’m away,” said Joe Davis, a Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputy and 13-year member of the military.

Davis, who approached Councilman Nate Nehring with the idea for the ordinance, is preparing for a 400-day deployment.

Without differential pay, his income would drop by about $40,000, he said.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; jthompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

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