Hazard pay is the additional compensation paid to employees who are working under hazardous conditions or in extreme physical discomfort or distress.
Learn more about when hazard pay is given, who might receive it, and how it is paid.
What Is Hazard Pay?
Some employers provide additional pay for workers performing hazardous duties or for work involving physical hardship. Hazard pay is an increase in wages for employees who work in hazardous conditions.
There is no set amount of hazard pay that employees are entitled to be paid.
There is no law requiring employers to pay hazard pay: Both the amount of the pay and the conditions under which it is paid are determined by the employer. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) doesn't address hazard pay, other than requiring that it be included as part of a federal employee's regular rate of pay in computing the employee's overtime pay.
How Much is Hazard Pay?
Generally, hazard pay is paid in addition to regular hourly wages or a salary, typically in the form of an increased hourly pay rate. It's similar to overtime, where employees are paid a higher rate for working extra hours. In the case of hazard pay, employees are paid more by their employer for working at a hazardous job.
Hazard pay is often applied as a premium; for example, an employer might agree to pay a 10% premium when an employee works under hazardous conditions. For those hours, the employee would earn 10% more money than their normal hourly wage.
Alternatively, hazard pay may be issued at a flat rate—for example, $250 per month.
When Employees Earn Hazard Pay
An employee will generally only receive hazardous duty pay for the hours worked in hazardous conditions. For example, if an employee works an eight-hour shift and four of those hours are spent in an air-conditioned office while four are spent doing construction in 100-degree heat, only the hours worked in the high-heat conditions will be at the hazard pay rate.
How to Get Hazard Pay
Hazard pay is not legally required of any employer. It is most often a benefit that employers negotiate with unions through collective bargaining, but some employers offer hazard pay for non-union workers as well.
If you are preparing to begin hazardous work, your employer should brief you on the type of work you will be doing, the risks involved, and the rate of pay before you begin the work.
If an employee suffers accidental injury or death because they were not briefed on the hazardous conditions, the employer could be held responsible. Therefore, it’s in the employer’s best interest to give the worker as much information as possible before they begin hazardous work.
If you are offered a job, ask about hazard pay before accepting the position.
Hazard Pay and Overtime
In other words, the employee would be paid overtime based upon their total regular earnings, which includes hazard pay. There are some exclusions to the overtime rate calculation, but hazard pay is not one of them.
Examples of Hazardous Conditions
There is no legal definition as to makes conditions hazardous, but some common examples of hazardous conditions include:
- Healthcare facilities
- Construction sites
- Dangerous or extreme weather
- War zones
- Hostile locations
Types of Jobs With Hazard Pay
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks the following 10 occupations as having the highest fatality rates. Because the conditions can be dangerous, workers at these jobs may receive hazard pay.
- Logging workers: The dangers arise from both the machinery involved and the work conditions.
- Fishers: Fishers need to deal with heavy-duty equipment and challenging weather conditions as well as operating a boat.
- Aircraft pilots and flight engineers: Being a pilot might top the list of kids' dream jobs, but like all jobs involving transportation, fatalities are disproportionately high.
- Roofers: Ladders and the height of the work combine to make this a potentially treacherous role. Roofers—along with ironworkers and electricians, other jobs with high fatality rates—perform some of the best-paid construction jobs.
- Refuse collectors: Collecting garbage means driving or riding on a garbage truck. That's risky enough, but then there's the heavy machinery aspect as well, which heightens the potential danger.
- Driver/sales workers and truck drivers: Transportation incidents account for 20% of fatal occupational injuries annually.
- Farmers, ranchers, and agriculture managers: Heavy machinery adds to the danger of these jobs. The long hours also mean that potentially tired people are operating that heavy machinery, which heightens the risks. Depending on where the land is located, farming and ranching are blue-collar jobs that can pay more than $100,000 a year.
- Structural iron and steel workers: Installing beams can be dangerous work. Much of this work takes place at high heights, which adds to the danger.
- First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers: With its heavy machinery and potentially tough conditions, construction work is dangerous both for the people doing the task and for on-site supervisors.
- First-line supervisors of lawn care and landscape workers: Machinery and chemicals can be a dangerous combination for landscape and grounds crews.
This list excludes people serving in the military, police officers, and firefighters. Those can also be very hazardous jobs, and those employees may also receive hazard pay.
- Hazard pay is additional compensation for workers who are performing exceedingly dangerous or physically uncomfortable jobs.
- Usually, hazard pay is received as a premium on top of regular wages, or as a flat-rate payment.
- The law doesn't require employers to give hazard pay, but it's often negotiated as part of a compensation package through collective bargaining with a union.