Workers’ comp bill in play as policy committee deadline nears

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, June 26, 2014 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

While limited in scope to hospital workers’ that contract Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (the MRSA virus), AB 2616 (Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley) would create a legal presumption for private sector employees for the first time, making it a higher burden of proof when attempting to contest a claim that is believed to be non-industrial. CMTA opposes this measure because of the precedent of expanding presumptions. It could be the catalyst for additional legislation in the future. 

Supporters of AB 2616 have argued that healthcare workers are more likely to be in contact with MRSA. The fact that hospital employees face specific types of risks in the workplace is not a justification for altering the legal standard for determining what is or is not an industrial injury. All employees, in every type of occupation, face risks inherent to their employment. This is anticipated by current labor law, which requires every employer to evaluate the specific risks faced by their employees and develop an “Injury and Illness Prevention Plan” that mitigates those risks.

Injuries occurring within the course and scope of employment are automatically covered by workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of fault. Presumptions of industrial causation for specific employees and injury types are simply not needed and create a tiered system of benefits that treats employees differently based on occupation and undermines the credibility and consistency of our workers’ compensation system.

AB 2616 was passed by the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on Wednesday, June 25th. It now heads for a hearing in Senate Appropriations.

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