Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

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By Susan Tokayer, owner, Family Helpers

A reconciled bill was passed by both the New York State Assembly and The State Senate two weeks ago. The bill that passed mandates that domestic works receive at least one day off each week, are paid time and a half for working more than 8 hours/day and more than 40 hours/week, and are given at least three days off per year. The bill also requires that domestic workers have workers’ compensation insurance. If Governor Patterson signs the bill into law, which is expected, it will be effective January, 2011. The latest bill is very different than the original bill, which called for mandatory holidays, two week’s termination notice and mandatory two week’s vacation/year.

By law, domestic workers should already receive time and a half for working more than 40 hours in a work week, although overtime for working more than 8 hours/day is new. And, by law, domestic workers should already be getting workers’ compensation. However, neither the overtime nor workers ’ compensation have been enforced in the past.

Although I believe that the vast majority of employers of domestic help are compensating their employees fairly and treating them with respect, it is sad to hear that some employees were not being treated fairly, hence the bill.

It will be interesting to see if this law will alter the way employers structure their domestic employees’ schedules, salaries, etc. I wonder how employers will learn about the new law, as many employers are not finding their help through agencies. Agency personnel will be able to guide and educate families regarding the new requirements. Will most employers even know that a new domestic rights bill exists?

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