Our opinion: Sign up for frontline worker pay

Published 6:32 pm Tuesday, June 7, 2022

This week, the State of Minnesota, through the Department of Labor and Industry will be launching a program that will distribute $500 million in bonus money to Minnesota workers who were on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Early in May, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 663, which represents some of the workers eligible for the funds, celebrated this major win for those who still had to go to work during the pandemic when others were able to work from home.

It was welcome news, if not overdue news, but now the ball is in the court of the workers.

We encourage all of those who meet the criteria, to sign up for these bonuses that will go toward helping families who may have been pinched by the pandemic.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that an estimated 667,000 people could sign up for the program, which would put payments at $750 per person.

The application process runs through July 22. To be eligible applicants:

• Must have been employed at least 120 hours in Minnesota in one or more frontline sectors between March 15, 2020, and June 30, 2021.

For the hours worked during this time period the applicant was not able to telework due to the nature of the individual’s work and worked in close proximity to people outside of the individual’s household;

• Must meet the income requirements for at least one year between Dec. 31, 2019, and Jan. 1, 2022.

Workers with direct COVID-19 patient care responsibilities must have had an adjusted gross income of less than $350,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly, or less than $175,000 for other filers and for workers in occupations without direct COVID-19 patient care responsibilities, the adjusted gross income limit is $185,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly, or $85,000 for other filers; and

• Must not have received an unemployment insurance benefit payment for more than 20 weeks on a cumulative basis for weeks between March 15, 2020, and June 26, 2021 (Minnesota Statutes, section 268.085, subdivision 1, clause 6).

For more information on the program as well as those who are eligible, visit: https://frontlinepay.mn.gov/