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Did Gov. Brown Do the Right Thing by Vetoing Domestic Workers Bill of Rights?

California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, saying it had good intentions but that it also raised too many questions to become law.

 

The Bill of Rights would have granted domestic workers a range of protections and privileges already enjoyed by most employees. Some key provisions would force employers to

 

  • Pay time-and-a-half when domestic workers work more than 40 hours a week
  • Give domestic workers a 15-minute break during their shifts
  • Give workers one day off per week

 

These don't seem like extraordinary demands on the surface. In fact, New York passed similar laws in 2010. While it has been difficult to enforce the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in New York, it has not created sizable concerns for families, who make up the majority of employers.

 

Do Governor Brown's Questions Make Sense?

 

Governor Brown raised several questions that caused him to veto the bill. How, for instance, would nannies and babysitters be able to take a 15-minute break during the day without abandoning children?

 

That seems like a good question on the surface, but the solution is pretty simple: domestic workers could have been required to take breaks during naptimes or at times when children are asleep.

 

He also questioned how the bill would impact a family's ability to pay for, not only childcare, but care for disabled people. Again, this seems like a reasonable question on the surface, but it becomes less valid when one looks a little deeper. Some domestic workers charged with helping disabled individuals, for instance, were not covered by the bill. As far as affordability, families are free to explore alternatives to full-time, at-home sitting services if they cannot afford them.

 

Having a nanny shouldn't be a right. Getting paid overtime when you work seven days in a row, however, should be.

 

These and other questions become even less prudent when one recognizes that the state had until 2014 to iron out the details. These questions could have been answered during that time. Instead, domestic workers ended up without the same legal protections that most people take for granted.

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