Senator Foley Helps Protect Domestic Workers

Brian X. Foley

June 03, 2010

Senator Brian X. Foley announced the passage by the New York State Senate of the historic Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. This legislation would make New York the first state in the nation to provide new standards of worker protection for more than 200,000 employees in an industry which has gone unregulated for decades.

This groundbreaking legislation guarantees notice of termination, paid sick days and holidays, protection from discrimination, and other basic labor protections that have long been denied to nannies, housekeepers, elderly caregivers, and others employed in private homes who keep families safe and functioning.

Due to their exclusion from the Depression-era National Labor Relations Act, domestic workers are subject to rampant exploitation and degradation, often working long hours isolated in their employers’ home without basic protections to fight back without the fear of losing their job.

“Domestic workers are among the least protected workers in New York and it is time for that to change,” said Senator Foley. “This bill of rights will ensure that domestic workers have at least one day off per week and work a reasonable number of hours per day. Often, domestic workers are forced to work long hours, seven days a week, for very little pay, or fear losing their jobs. This legislation will put an end to such practices and provide domestic workers a level of protection they are not currently afforded.”

A study conducted by Domestic Workers United, a non-profit organization of domestic workers and advocates, found that 33 percent of domestic workers reported verbal or physical abuse at the hands of their employers, while another 67 percent reported sometimes or never receiving overtime pay.