In a previous post, we outlined several reasons that advocacy groups are pushing for the passage of Assembly Bill 889, which would be delivered as a response to the plight of domestic workers that have no workers' compensation, no short-term or long-term disability insurance, no retirement plan, no paid sick leave, the list goes on. The passage of this bill would affect people working in private homes by forcing their employers to follow stricter guidelines or face penalties.
Advocacy groups are asking for overtime pay at time-and-a-half, especially for live-in workers. They want workers to have one day off per week, regular breaks and paid vacation. A family with full-time help will have to pay unemployment and workers' comp taxes, too.
Oral agreements will be out, replaced with written agreements that clearly spell out hourly rates, sick leave, vacation and holidays. Under one state's law, employers must also complete weekly wage statements; failure to do so results in a fine. Workers may sue if an employer doesn't abide by the terms of the employment contract.
Passage of workers' rights bills, such as Assembly Bill 889, would give the employee confidence to speak up when wronged. The director of one advocacy group, Domestic Workers in the United States, is quoted regarding the passage of one bill as saying, "Since the law passed, the number of inquiries we've gotten from workers has increased tenfold."
Until the domestic workers bill of rights takes hold in California and elsewhere, the people who work in our homes and take care of the most vulnerable members of our families need not go without the legal protections afforded other workers. Every individual homeowner can treat their employees with dignity, equality and respect.
Source: Slate.com, "'The Help' Gets Its Due," Sharon Lerner, Feb. 22, 2012