Support SB 213: Frontline Healthcare Worker Workers’ Compensation

Right now, when nurses and health care workers get sick or hurt on the job, they’re not automatically covered by workers’ comp. There’s no guarantee of paid time off for work-related injuries or illnesses for these predominantly female professions. Nothing.

Meanwhile, in male-dominated first responder fields, a whole host of illnesses and injuries are presumed to stem from the job: They’re given the benefit of the doubt for these ailments and are automatically eligible for workers’ comp.

It’s time to modernize outdated California laws and correct this sexist failure to protect nurses, health care workers, and our patients, who suffer when their caregivers suffer. It’s time for California to join other states in ensuring that when nurses and health care workers get sick on the job, we’re cared for.

I’m writing to you today to urge you to support SB 213, the Frontline Health Care Worker Workers’ Compensation Bill. 

Nurses often have to jump through hoops — while sick or hurt — to receive paid time off for work-related illnesses or injuries. And after all that effort, nurses can still be denied coverage. 

But California has laws granting workers in male-dominated professions such as police officers and firefighters presumptive eligibility for certain conditions: everything from lower back pain to PTSD. These illnesses or injuries are presumed to be job related, and the worker is automatically eligible for workers’ comp benefits.

Our nearly 90 percent female profession experiences many, many known hazards at work, now including Covid-19. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, workplace hazards that required at least one day off work totaled 220 for firefighters and 200 for police officers. The total for registered nurses was 78,740!

SB 213 is a vital policy that will protect health care workers as the global pandemic rages, and beyond. It recognizes that health care workers like nurses — who provide direct patient care — face the same health risks as public safety officers who receive workers’ compensation presumptions.

The bill will modernize outdated California laws by making it easier for registered nurses and other health care workers to access the workers' compensation system. Specifically, this bill creates a workers' compensation rebuttable presumption for hospital employees who provide direct patient care in an acute hospital setting for issues such as infectious disease, respiratory disease, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, and musculoskeletal injuries. 

This will ensure all frontline health care workers have access to the same workers' compensation presumptions, and is a vital step in achieving economic and gender equality. When health care workers are hurt or sickened because of our daily sacrifices, we should all be provided with the security written into SB 213. We signed up to care for our patients, not to weather out a work-related illness or injury with no pay!

Please support SB 213 and help ensure that nurses and other health care workers have presumptive eligibility for workers’ compensation.