The passage of the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights in New York State in 2009 is, perhaps, the biggest milestone in the movement for fair labor standards for household workers ever. It is the result of the remarkable efforts of Domestic Workers United and the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Three of our panelists worked on the campaign and I look forward to learning about what it took to make that happen.
In the mean time here is the skinny on this piece of legislation:
The bill mandates an eight hour work day and guarantees time and a half for overtime. It requires a day of rest and suggests that this coincide with the workers religious observances. After one year of employment, workers earn three paid days off. For full time employees, the bill requires employers to provide unemployment benefits and paid time off. The bill also addresses discrimination based on race, gender, and disability as well as sexual harassment.
Of course this all sounds wonderful on paper and enforcing these basic rights is another thing entirely. At the very least having some sort of recourse, however small, to be able to advocate for oneself in an abusive work environment is certainly a step forward.
A similar bill is being presented in California. To find out more about this campaign and to sign the online petition click here.