California considers legislation to award $10K in COVID-19 bonuses for healthcare workers

A bill under consideration in California would require hospitals, clinics and skilled nursing facilities to invest in COVID-19 bonuses for healthcare workers, the Los Angeles Times reported June 2. 

The bill, the Health Care Workers Recognition and Retention Act, calls for facilities to pay hazard pay retention bonuses to full-time workers in four $2,500 installments next year, totaling $10,000. Bonuses would be paid Jan. 1, April 1, July 1 and Oct. 1 in 2022. 

Part-time workers would receive four installments of $1,500, and workers employed less than part-time would receive four installments of $1,000. 

Under the bill, workers who provide direct patient care or services directly supporting patient care and meet other employment criteria would qualify. This includes pharmacists, clinicians, nurses, aides, technicians, janitorial and housekeeping staff, security guards, food services workers, laundry workers, nonmanagerial administrative staff and physicians who are employees of a healthcare provider.

Employers that already gave workers qualifying hazard pay and qualifying monetary bonuses during the COVID-19 pandemic could subtract the previous bonuses from the amount awarded to workers, according to the Los Angeles Times. The bill applies to healthcare providers with 100 or more employees.

According to the report, the bill is supported by the Service Employees International Union California, which cites the toll the pandemic has taken on healthcare workers. However, Alex Hawthorne, a lobbyist for the California Hospital Association, told the newspaper the price tag associated with providing the bonuses — estimated to be billions of dollars for hospitals statewide — is concerning given the financial damage hospitals have already incurred during the pandemic.  

Kerry Jacob, a spokesperson for California Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, who introduced the legislation, told Becker's both private and public healthcare providers would fund the bonuses. She said the bill allows for exemptions for those that cannot afford to pay, and there is a provision allowing qualifying providers to use state funds if they become available through the budget.

The bill must pass the California Assembly and the California Senate — and receive the governor's signature — to become law. 

To read the full Los Angeles Times article, click here


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