Surprise Bonus Checks Of Up To $600 Going Out Today: Who Will Get Them?

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Some Americans will get surprise bonus checks of up to $600 before the start of the New Year. Earlier this week, the City of Denver decided to send surprise bonus checks to eligible city employees. These bonus checks serve as a token of appreciation for the work done by employees when many departments faced employee shortages.

Surprise Bonus Checks: Who All Are Eligible?

On Monday, the City Council approved the one-time surprise bonus checks of up to $600 for eligible employees. Most employees eligible for this one-time bonus are expected to get the money Friday, i.e., today, while all checks should be received by December 30.

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The bonus checks “are in appreciation for their dedication and service in 2022, when staffing shortages continued to impact departments and agencies across the city, often at the expense of the city workforce," read the city bill, according to Denverite.

Denver’s one-time surprise bonus checks are expected to benefit about 8,300 employees, and cost around $6 million.

The funds to send bonus checks come from savings from vacant jobs, with most contributions coming from the sheriff’s department. The savings from the vacant jobs would have remained unused had City Council not approved the one-time bonuses. This is because the city doesn’t have enough time to approve any other contracts before next year.

To qualify for the bonus payment, employees must have continuously worked in the city since at least September 30 of this year, as well as be working on December 30. Both full and part-time employees are eligible for the bonus, but on-call employees, who worked for less than 30 hours a week, won’t get the bonus.

Employees that aren’t eligible for the bonus checks, include uniformed members of the Fire Department, Sheriff Department and Police Department; judges, magistrates, board and commission members and unpaid volunteers.

Eligibility for the elected and appointed staff depends on the department and role. It must be noted that the Department of Human Services and other agencies, including the airport, will administer bonuses separately.

Why Sending Bonus Checks Was So Important

In 2020, Denver froze hiring, and this, coupled with the fact that more workers quit their jobs following the COVID-19 pandemic, made the staffing scenario worse for the city. Though the average vacancy rates have come down since the start of this year, it still is above the pre-pandemic levels.

The City Council will now hope that the surprise bonus checks will help in retaining the existing staff.

Denver offered bonus checks to employees last year as well. In 2021, the city sent $400 to employees who got the COVID-19 vaccine. Also, extra cash was sent to employees who worked in-person at least 50% of the time, or physically handled items at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, staffing issues resulted in some employees receiving double overtime pay, hiring bonuses, pay adjustments, and temporary retention bonuses.