Rich Funke

November 23, 2015

New law puts the assault of a patient care worker in the same category as assault of a nurse, firefighter, or paramedic; Legislation strongly supported by CSEA

Senator Rich Funke announced that Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed into law his legislation to classify the assault of a worker providing direct patient care as Assault in the Second Degree. Funke’s bill, S.3621-A, establishes a new law to put patient care workers in parity with Registered Nurses, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians, who already receive increased protections while engaged in their official duties. The legislation also passed both houses of the Legislature with bipartisan support and was endorsed by the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA).

“Every day, thousands of workers provide outstanding service in nursing homes, healthcare centers, and long-term care facilities across our community. Their work is important, the environment is challenging, and they deserve to know they are safe on the job,” said Funke.  “My legislation, which will now become law, provides the same protections to these workers that are already afforded to nurses, firefighters, and paramedics for the important work they do. I thank lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for helping to make this common-sense law a reality.”

As the general population ages, there is increasing demand for skilled heath aides in a variety of hospital, center, or home care settings. Under S.3621-A, a patient care worker is defined as any staff, other than registered nurses, whose principle responsibility is to provide direct health care for one or more patients. The new law now guarantees greater protections for these workers, who often encounter difficult conditions and challenging patient-related issues on a daily basis. A recent survey of health care workers revealed that 25% of nursing home workers and 34% of nursing aides reported experiencing workplace violence, and a quarter of those workers reported missing work as a result.

"All workers deserve a safe workplace,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “This law will help deter violent attacks against workers who are simply trying to do their job of delivering care to those in need. I applaud the leadership of Senator Funke and Assemblywoman Gunther on this issue."

The new law will go into effect on January 1, 2016.