What Is Hazard Pay?

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  • Originally Written By: James Jikarte
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2019
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Generally speaking, hazard pay is any money earned over and above a normal salary to compensate for some perceived danger involved in a person’s day to day job. Members of many countries’ militaries receive special hazard provisions in their paychecks when they’re deployed to war zones, for instance, or when they’re posted to places recognized as overtly dangerous. Certain political and relief aid workers might also be entitled to this sort of bonus, as are many people who take on risky jobs, either temporarily or permanently. There are a couple of reasons why this sort of pay is offered. Sometimes it’s to make dangerous jobs more attractive, and to make sure slots are filled; it may also be to compensate people and their families for almost certain risk. Most of the time hazard compensation is categorized differently from a person’s standard salary from an accounting perspective, and is normally issued at the discretion of the employer. In some places this sort of pay is taxed differently than standard income, too.


Basic Rationale

Dangerous jobs are, by their nature, risky, and the people who take them often put themselves in harm’s way in the daily course of getting their work done. The routine threat of bodily harm and strife is off-putting to many, but the jobs that require these sacrifices are often very important. Some of the most obvious are military operations, but many non-military aid and peace-keeping missions also qualify when they’re in war-torn regions or otherwise “troubled” parts of the world. The outside environment doesn’t have to be inherently dangerous in order for a job to be risky, though. Certain construction and mining jobs often qualify, for instance, as do jobs that require long or odd hours doing labor-intensive tasks that put a person at risk of injury.

These jobs and others like them are often really important to the societies that support them, but it can be hard to convince qualified people to take them. One of the most important rationales for offering extra pay is to offer an incentive. More money can often make the risks more bearable.

Calculation Rubrics

How hazard pay is determined usually depends on a couple of different factors, but is almost always at the discretion of the issuing agency, government, or employer. Sometimes it’s a percentage of a person’s base salary, but it can also be a flat rate; in many military situations the calculation is made based on things like the recipient’s rank, length of service, and amount of time in the designated hazard zone. People who volunteer for repeat deployments are often eligible for even higher payouts.

In the Military

Military members are often eligible for hazard-related pay when they are sent to fight or protect regions that are deemed to be more dangerous than others. This determination of danger is usually made by some higher authority, and is almost always subject to change as conditions and stabilities shift.

In many cases military members can also receive extra pay for performing certain dangerous duties. For instance, a parachutist might be paid extra because jumping out of planes is thought to be much riskier than operating ground machinery or training troops. Similarly, people who defuse bombs or mines might also be eligible for extra pay. Military members assigned to a temporary assignment might receive payment for the duration of the mission, as well.

For Aid and Relief Workers

Jobs that require personnel to be stationed away from their homes and in zones considered risky or in turmoil might also qualify. For example, the United Nations offers additional funds to international workers that are required to remain working in areas the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) has defined as dangerous. Hazards include events such as local hostile actions, civil war, or international war.

Generally Dangerous Jobs

Another type of hazard pay consists of funds provided to people whose jobs are not related to the dangers of combat. Instead, these jobs simply consist of dangerous activities. Constructing skyscrapers, for instance, requires workers to climb great heights, so construction workers might receive hazard pay. Pilots engaged in rescue activities or firefighters battling dangerous fires might also receive these sorts of bonuses.


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can a school nurse claim hazard pay?

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