Senator Caballero Brings Parity to Worker’s Compensation

February 22, 2019

SACRAMENTO—Today, Senator Anna M. Caballero introduced SB 567, which expands worker’s compensation protections for first responder healthcare workers, the majority of which are women.

“Worker’s compensation presumptions exist for first responders because they are inevitably exposed to dozens of potential illnesses as a condition of their work; many of which lead to health issues such as infectious diseases, respiratory illnesses and cancer,” said Caballero. Presumptions streamline treatment for workers by reducing the burden of proof that their injury or illness was caused by the nature of their employment. This protects the employee from hospital or surgical costs associated with the health issue.

“Current professions that have these protections are heavily male-dominated fields, including firefighters and police officers,” stated Caballero. “My bill, SB 567, recognizes health care workers such as nurses, are first responders as well, and face many of these same health risks. They should be given the same worker’s compensation protections as their male counterparts.”

Specifically, SB 567 creates a worker’s compensation rebuttable presumption for hospital employees who provide direct patient care in an acute hospital setting for issues such as infectious disease, cancer, musculoskeletal injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and respiratory illness.

The California Nurses Association have long recognized the inequality in worker’s compensation presumptions between different first responder professions. “Every single day, nurses face extraordinary risks to their physical and mental health on the job. I am proud to be a RN in my community and have always put my patients before everything else. However, that means I’m at a higher risk for certain illnesses and injuries,” said Zenei Cortez, Co-President of the California Nurses Association, who are the sponsors of this legislation. “SB 567 will modernize outdated California laws by making it easier for registered nurses to access the workers compensation system, just like the law currently protects firefighters and other first responders. Nurses fight for their patients, and SB 567 fights to get our nurses the protections they deserve.”

Senator Caballero agrees. “90% of registered nurses are female, and they are treating the same patients in hospitals that public safety officers are treating in the field,” stated Caballero. “Ensuring first responder healthcare workers have access to the same worker’s compensation presumptions is a vital step in achieving economic and gender equality.”

Senator Anna M. Caballero represents the 12th Senate District, composed of Merced and San Benito Counties, the Salinas Valley, and portions of Fresno, Madera, and Stanislaus Counties.