Domestic workers get labor protections under new law

Diane J. Savino

August 31, 2010

August31Gov. David Paterson signed into law today a bill that provides a number of rights to domestic workers, such as nannies, housekeepers and elderly caregivers. It provides a number of legal protections that most other workers in the United States have and is the first such legislation in the country, according to Domestic Workers United.

Under the law, domestic workers are guaranteed at least one day off per week, or overtime pay if it is waived; three paid vacation annually after one year of work; time-and-a-half pay after 40 hours of work in a week, or 44 hours for in-home workers; and disability benefits. Domestic workers will no longer be exempt from the Human Rights Law, and a special cause of action for domestic workers who suffer sexual or racial harassment will be created.

“With the signing of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, we will dramatically improve the lives of those who care for our children, our seniors and our homes, those who make all other work possible. More importantly, it sends a clear message to the rest of the country that domestic workers are indeed employees, and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity,” Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, said in a statement.

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