Domestic Worker's Bill of Rights Hearing at  Massachusetts State House

Domestic Worker's Bill of Rights Hearing at  Massachusetts State House
November 12, 2013,  a Historical Day for Domestic Workers.

A domestic worker is a person who works within their employer’s household. Domestic workers perform a variety of household services for an individual or a family, from providing care for children and elderly dependents to cleaning and household maintenance, known as housekeeping.  

Globally there are over 52.6 million domestic workers, 2.5 million in the United States, and over 100,000 in Massachusetts. In the United States in only three states, New York, Hawaii, and California domestic workers have some protection under labor laws. When Massachusetts passes the bill, it will be the fourth state to give those who work in the home stronger labor rights.

On Tuesday, Massachusetts state lawmakers held a hearing on a proposed Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, making it the latest state to consider giving nannies, caregivers, and housekeepers who work in the home expanded labor rights.

Under this new bill domestic workers the ability to file complaints of abuse or harassment with the state commission, protection from surveillance by employers, and the right to sick time, guaranteed rest periods, and either notification of termination or severance pay. It would also require employers to sign contracts with these workers that outline their duties, pay, time off, and other arrangements. It’s cosponsored by State Rep. Michael J. Moran (D) and Senator Anthony W. Petruccelli (D) and 83 other legislators have endorsed the bill.

1930s New Deal: “The Bargain with the Devil” Southern Democrats preserved Jim Crow and worker subordination by excluding domestic workers and farm workers from labor protections. It is still today an unregulated industry. In most of the U.S.,  domestic workers are excluded from FLSA – Fair Labor Standards Act – right to overtime not afforded to home care workers; NLRA – National Labor Relations Act (right to form union and collectively bargain); FMLA – Family Medical Leave Act (right to have up to 12 weeks job-protected leave for serious illness of self, child, spouse or parent and for child birth or adoption, but only available to employees working for a year in companies with 50 or more employees); and OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health.

At the federal level, the Department of Labor took a historic step in September to expand the Fair Labor Standards Act to cover home care workers who care for the elderly and disabled.

updated 3 months ago

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