Domestic workers are nannies, housekeepers, and elder caregivers. They clean and cook and care for children and the elderly. Many are immigrants with a limited knowledge of the laws of this country or of the state in which they work. Some are undocumented and live in fear of being deported.
Many domestic workers also often work overtime but do not receive over time pay. A new law approved by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) approved regulations extending wage and overtime protections to domestic workers. As the New York Times reports, the new rules will mean that “[i]f an aide or companion provides ‘care’ that exceeds 20% of the total hours she works each week, then the worker is to receive (a) minimum wage and (b) overtime protections.”
However, these rules which will take effect in 2015, only apply to home care workers who are hired by agencies.
New York has also been making greater efforts to move one step closer to being the first state to extend basic workplace protections to domestic workers. Earlier this year, the State Senate passed a domestic workers’ bill of rights which includes paid holidays, sick days, vacation days and right to overtime pay and collective bargaining—all things which we often take for granted. The bill now has to be reconciled with the Assembly version which passed last year.
For more info on rights of domestic workers, check out this handbook: Rights Begin at Home: Protecting Yourself as a Domestic Worker.