Birmingham Sets Aside $500,000 for Employee Hazard Pay

Birmingham City Council meets April 7, 2020. (Source: City of Birmingham)

Birmingham will provide hazard pay to select city employees during the COVID-19 crisis, the City Council decided Tuesday.

Mayor Randall Woodfin told councilors that the pay increase, which will last for one month, will go to 1,978 city employees “that engage in some form or shape with the public.”

That includes 922 police and corrections officers; 607 fire and rescue service employees; 220 public works employees; 100 planning, engineering and permits employees; 90 municipal court employees; 29 finance department employees; and 10 City Hall security officers employed by the mayor’s office.

Those employees will receive a pay increase of 5% of their base salary for hours worked; for example, a $1,000 paycheck would be increased to $1,050.

“I think this is an important step as it relates to the balancing act of the safety of our employees as well as the morale of our employees,” Woodfin said.

A total of $500,000 has been appropriated to pay for the hazard pay, with $350,000 coming from funding previously allocated to the Indy Racing League, $50,000 from the mayor’s office’s grant-matching budget and $100,000 from the human resources department’s banquet food budget.

Woodfin also announced two temporary changes to the public works department, which he said would alleviate the strain put on workers by the “tremendous increase of household garbage” that has resulted from the city’s shelter-in-place order.

Starting next week, the public works department will shift to a four-day, 10-hour workweek. “This allows them put in full days while also providing an extended break, removing them from the potential of exposure.” Woodfin said his office decided on the 4/10 model because it already had been successfully implemented in the city’s police department.

The public works department also will temporarily discontinue recycling pickup citywide, except for routes covered by the nascent City Haul pilot project, which includes most of Roebuck, parts of Forest Park, Crestwood South, East Avondale and Woodland Park. That program will continue, Woodfin said, because it “literally just started six days ago.” Residents not covered by City Haul can still take their recyclable items to Birmingham Recycling and Recovery, located at 9 41st St. S in Avondale.