Ransomware Attack Delays Pandemic Hazard Pay for Prince George's Health Workers

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A ransomware attack on an international company is affecting businesses and governments around the world, including the Prince George's County's government.

Kronos, the vendor that tracks its employee attendance and work hours, was hacked, the county said.

“It's like the Grinch that stole Christmas,” said Jason Carter, a union rep for Prince George's County's health department workers.

He said his members may not get thousands of dollars in hazard backpay before Christmas.

“This is pay that is going to folks that worked through the pandemic,” Carter said. “These are folks that kept this county running.”

The county can't access its data. The union said it negotiated 15 weeks of retroactive hazard pay for its workers that won't be coming this Friday as expected.

While the almost 7,000 people who work for Prince George's County's government should receive their paychecks this week, overtime hours and premium pay could be impacted in the next pay cycle.

“Clearly, we don't like it, but we understand, that especially in this new world that we live in, that we are relying upon technology, we’re relying upon vendors who provide applications to us, and we just have to adjust,” Prince George’s County Chief Administrative Officer Tara Jackson said.

The executive vice president of Kronos released a statement that says, in part, “We are working with leading cybersecurity experts to assess and resolve the situation and have notified the authorities. The investigation remains ongoing as we work to determine the nature and scope of the incident.”

“We’re just going to do whatever we have to do to make sure people are paid appropriately and accurately to include any premium pay,” Jackson said.

That may mean several hundred health department workers won't get the hazard pay they expected until this is resolved.

“What's really sad is it's Christmas and we have a lot of members, single parents, unfortunately we have a lot of members that are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and they were counting on this money,” Carter said.

Hundreds of governments large corporations and businesses around the world use Kronos. At this point the company does not have a timeline for when these problems are going to be fixed.

A county spokesperson said the county will work to manually get the hazard pay to those employees and hope to have them paid by Dec. 30. 

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