Hartford HealthCare will soon begin paying all its employees at least $15 per hour, a move the hospital group calls a $6 million investment in its workforce.
The General Assembly is considering a minimum wage hike that would require all employers to pay $15 or more. The state’s current minimum wage is $10.10.
The pay increase, effective March 31, will boost the salaries of more than 2,400 of Hartford HealthCare’s 20,000 employees.
Tracy Church, chief administrative officer for Hartford HealthCare, said most of the jobs affected are “patient facing.”
“These include patient care technicians, environmental service aides, patient attendants and food service workers,” she wrote in an email.
The total number of hospital group employees has grown in recent years. Church didn’t elaborate on how the increased salary costs were being absorbed.
“This important decision is a reflection of our respect for our staff and a product of our core value of integrity that calls us to ‘do the right thing,’ ” said Elliot Joseph, Hartford HealthCare CEO, in a press release. “Investing in the financial security of those who work with us is further recognition of everyone’s contributions to carrying out our mission.”
The increased pay could also help with employee retention, improve employee
satisfaction, increase employees’ sense of belonging and attract good candidates to open jobs, according to the hospital group.
David Cadden, a business professor at Quinnipiac University, said Hartford HealthCare may be seeing the trend of higher wages through the market and lower unemployment, as well as the possibility of government action. The hospital group may be trying to get “ahead of the curve” to scoop up or retain the best employees.
“I think that some of the larger organizations are going to get on the bandwagon with higher wages in an attempt to secure the better employees,” Cadden said. “For the smaller organizations, it will pose a problem.”
Hospitals that can’t afford the higher wages will have less skilled workers, according to Cadden, or look at curtailing hours if a minimum wage is increased.
Chris Boyle, spokesman for Bristol Hospital, said the group is continually examining pay for various jobs.
”We’re always reviewing what the market is saying and make the appropriate adjustments on a regular basis,” he said.
Pay isn’t the only thing that draws employees, Boyle said. Prospective workers also look at benefits, company culture and location of a job.
The announcement also comes as some Democrats are hoping to capitalize on November’s elections and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
State Rep. Liz Linehan, a Democratic representing Cheshire, Wallingford and Southington, commended Hartford HealthCare.
“I hope this is a continuation of a trend where corporations take responsibility for providing their workforce a livable wage,” she said.
State Sen. Rob Sampson, a Republican representing Waterbury, Southington, Cheshire, Wolcott and Prospect, said he was pleased that Hartford HealthCare has the ability to pay all their employees at least $15 per hour. He said that company’s voluntary action was far different than the proposal to mandate a state minimum wage increase.
“One of them is a voluntary act by private industry, a business making a decision to benefit the way their business operates,” Sampson said. “The other is a mandate on citizens and businesses that I think will have an adverse impact on the state’s economy and people.”
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