Domestic Worker's Bill of Rights

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A Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights took effect in New York State on November 29, 2010. Among other rights, this law gave domestic workers the right to overtime pay, a day of rest every seven days, three paid days of rest each year (after one year of work for the same employer), protection under the state human rights law, and a special cause of action for domestic workers who suffer sexual or racial harassment. In July 2013, Hawaii became the second state to implement basic labor protections for domestic workers.[1] In January 2014, similar legislation took effect in California.[2]

Background[edit]

The National Labor Relations Act was enacted in 1935 by Congress. This law was created to protect the rights of workers in the United States. The act did not cover domestic workers, as well as a number of other employees.[3] Therefore, a six-year grassroots campaign was put into effect until the Governor of New York passed the Domestic Worker's Bill of Rights.[4]

New York Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights[edit]

Under the New York Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights, a domestic worker is defined as someone who works in another person's home who is not related to them and is not a part-time job. This bill gives domestic workers an eight-hour work day and overtime (time and a half) for working over 40 hours a week (or 44 hours if the employee resides in the home of their employer). This law also establishes that workers must be granted one day (24 hours) off every seven days of work or be paid overtime pay if the employee agrees to work on this day. Also, after one year of work with the same employer, domestic workers are granted three paid days off every year. Although domestic workers were already covered by the minimum wage law, this bill ensures that domestic workers receive $7.25 per hour. Employers must pay their workers weekly and cannot deduct money from the employee's paycheck without written permission. Employers must now keep a payroll and provide workers with written notifications regarding sick days, vacation days, and work schedules. Domestic workers who work at least 40 hours a week are now entitled to Workers' Compensation Insurance and Disability Benefits. This law also gives domestic workers coverage under the New York State Human Rights Law if they have been harassed due to gender, race, sex, religion, or origin. The employer cannot make any unwanted sexual advances including both physical and verbal sexual actions. If the worker files a complaint, the employer cannot retaliate. This law covers all full-time workers, including immigrants. This law does not cover people who are related to the person they care for, or if they are a part-time worker, such as a baby-sitter.[5]

Hawaii Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights[edit]

Hawaii governor Neil Abercrombie signed a domestic workers bill of rights in July 2013, making Hawaii the second U.S. state to give nannies, housekeepers and others protections on wages and other labor issues.[6] The domestic workers bill in Hawaii makes it illegal to discriminate against domestic workers based on several factors, including race, gender and sexual orientation.[7] It also establishes protections, overtime, rest breaks, and protection from abuse and harassment for them.[8] It covers cooks, waiters, butlers and others, including some baby sitters; it went into effect immediately.[9]

California Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights[edit]

California had an ongoing debate about passing a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. The 2012 California bill, which was inspired by the New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, would have entitled domestic workers to overtime pay, eased eligibility requirements for workers' compensation, and provided them with meal and rest breaks, the right to eight hours of sleep, and the right to use their employers’ kitchens to cook their own food.[10] That bill passed the state Senate and the concurrence vote in the Assembly,[11] but California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed it on September 30, 2012.[12]

However, the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (AB 241) was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown on September 26, 2013, and went into effect on January 1, 2014.[13][14] The law makes nannies, private healthcare aides and other domestic workers in California eligible for overtime pay if they work more than nine hours a day or 45 hours a week.[15]

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