Nurses Push for Emergency Leave Bill
Minnesota nurses, including nurses at Robbinsdale-based North Memorial Health, are rallying behind a bill to provide more emergency paid leave.
The Essential Workers Emergency Leave Act, or HF41, would provide 100 hours of emergency paid leave to nurses and other essential workers. It would help those who are required to quarantine or exhibit symptoms but later test negative. The bill would also cover essential workers who need to care for a family member who contracts COVID or need to watch children if a child care facility has to temporarily close due to COVID-19.
Currently, nurses only qualify for workers’ compensation if they contract the virus at work. Mary Turner, a registered nurse at North Memorial in Robbinsdale, says the bill would ensure that nurses don’t have to dip into sick time, vacation benefits, or go without pay entirely for other issues related to COVID-19.
“We’ve seen our own health-care workers, our frontline in this pandemic, punished for being safe,” said Turner, who is also president of the Minnesota Nurses Association. “Nurses aren’t covered if they wait for a COVID test or wait for the results to come back, or if they’re negative, but their family member is sick.”
State Rep. Cedrick Frazier, DFL-New Hope, is chief author of the bill. Frazier said the legislation is necessary to help families protect their own health and pay their bills without the risk of losing their jobs.
“We need to take care of our essential workers like they take care of us,” said Frazier.