5 On Your Side

5 On Your Side investigates premium pay & first responders

Posted April 13, 2020 5:42 p.m. EDT

Police, firefighters, EMS – they're who you call in an emergency, and who you need when something bad happens.

With COVID-19 an added threat right now, a cash bonus to work during the pandemic is no doubt a pick-me-up for front-line workers, and an acknowledgment of the danger they could be in.

Some employees are being paid a premium, but others who they believe should be are not.

Some Wake County EMS workers asked 5 On Your Side to look into why they're not on the receiving end.

What we learned from area municipalities is there's no blanket policy.

In the cities of Raleigh and Durham; police officers, firefighters, 911 dispatchers and sanitation workers are some of the front-line positions getting what the cities call "premium pay."  It's a 5 percent raise.

But it's different in Wake and Durham Counties.

In Wake County, spokeswoman Amanda Perry tells us their "Emergency Situation Pay Policy" currently covers more than 250 employees from nearly all departments. They get time and a half.

One group not included, which WRAL is hearing from, is Wake County EMS.

Perry told us those already in "emergency response" roles, such as EMS and the sheriff's office, are not eligible because they are "performing their normal duties," and "their activities are not being directed by the Emergency Operations Center."

Wake County deputies who work in the Emergency Operations Center do get the county's increase, but not those patrolling the streets.

"The WCSO is very interested in exploring avenues that would allow emergency premium pay for all first responders,” said Eric Curry, spokesman for the Wake Country Sheriff's Office.

Durham County does include EMS and sheriff's deputies in their differential pay policy, according to a spokesman for the EMS department and spokeswoman for the sheriff's office.

All Durham County staff involved with the COVID-19 response receive a 10 percent pay increase.

Cumberland County spokeswoman Sally Shutt says the county does not have a COVID-19-related premium pay policy, and has not talked about starting one.​​​​​​​

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