As other states enact workers’ compensation protections for frontline workers, millions of California’s essential employees are seeking a safety net should they contract COVID-19 while on the job.
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported last week that police and firefighters are seeking workers’ compensation protections as they face a higher risk in contracting the coronavirus than the general public.
The article quotes Stephen Bussell, president of the Santa Rosa Police Officers’ Association, saying “the state must act — and soon — to assure these front-line workers don’t have to worry about lost wages, benefits and time away from work if they get sick.” We agree.
What’s more, in a separate article, the Press Democrat also reported last week that many nurses, who continue to put their lives at risk, must prove they contracted the coronavirus while at work before being afforded the benefits they’re entitled to under workers’ compensation.
It’s unacceptable for essential workers who contract COVID-19 to have their claims delayed or denied during this time of crisis.
The article quotes Assemblymember Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa, saying he would look into the issue and address it with lawmakers when the legislature reconvenes in May.
Taking action as soon as the legislative session resumes would be the ultimate goal. Given these unprecedented times, perhaps it’s time we examine ways to enact worker protections in times of emergency.
In the meantime, we hope lawmakers approve some form of worker protections as soon as possible, and apply them retroactively, so that any essential employee contracting COVID-19 while on the job can get fast and effective health care through no expense of their own.