Ohio State student office assistants who volunteer to work in quarantine and isolation residence halls will not receive hazard pay.
Residence Life office assistants received an email Aug. 4 asking for them to volunteer for placements at the front desks of COVID-19 isolation and quarantine housing on campus for students who test positive for COVID-19 or are exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 fall semester. When asking if they would receive hazard pay or could work extra hours if they volunteer, OAs were told no, according to emails obtained by The Lantern.
The initial email to student OAs stated that the front desk areas will be sealed off with plexiglass, workers will be given personal protection equipment and a majority of interaction with quarantined and isolated students will be over the phone. The email also stated the residence halls being used for this special housing currently include Lawrence Tower, Houck House and Barrett House.
When one student worker inquired if she would receive hazard pay or be allowed to work extra hours to make up for the increased risk, she was told her standard OA pay rate would not be adjusted.
University spokesperson Dave Isaacs said the additional steps the university is taking to ensure the health and safety of OAs significantly lower the risk of working in these buildings.
“We have a high level of health and safety protocols and processes in place for these res halls,” Isaacs said. “The students who volunteer to work as OAs will be in plexiglass enclosed work spaces and will have virtually no direct contact with students who live there”
University spokesperson Ben Johnson said in an email that only office assistants who volunteer for the quarantine and isolation housing assignment will be placed in those residence halls.
“Individuals who are not comfortable in that environment are not under any obligation to volunteer and will be assigned to a different space on campus,” Johnson said.
First-year OAs currently earn $8.70 per hour and returning OAs receive annual raises, according to the university’s website. However, confirmation emails sent to returning OAs mid-July stated that the university had not yet determined if it was able to institute the raises. Ohio State currently has a hiring off-cycle salary increase freeze that also applies to annual salary increases.
UPDATED at 4:15 p.m. — This story was updated with Johnson’s quote.