New workers' comp protections for health care and frontline workers during a pandemic

Two bills signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee will grant presumptive workers’ compensation protections to health care and frontline workers during a public health emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill (ESSB) 5115, known as the Health Emergency Labor Standards Act (HELSA), and ESSB 5190 were signed by Gov. Inslee and took effect on May 11, 2021.

The new laws mean that it will be presumed health care and frontline workers contracted a contagious or infectious disease at work when they file a workers’ compensation claim for the disease and the disease is the subject of a public health emergency. Claims will be decided based on the new laws.

In order for a claim to be allowed, workers must provide proof that they contracted the disease, as well as meet other requirements.

For more details about the new laws and their impact on workers’ compensation benefits, check out the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). The Department of Labor & Industries is developing further guidance about the laws and will release more information and resources soon.

If you have questions about these new laws related to workers’ compensation, email