When it comes to worker's rights, domestic works, including nannies, babysitters, and housekeepers, have never gotten much protection from the government. Several states, however, are following New York's lead with legislation designed to enforce a Domestic Worker Bill of Rights.
The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights
According to New York's Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, domestic workers have the right to
- Overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week (those who live at the employer's home reach overtime after 44 hours)
- At least one full day (24 hours) off every seven days
- Overtime pay if the worker agrees to work a week without a day off
- The same sexual and racial harassment protections that other employees receive.
Spreading the Word About the Bill of Rights
The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights definitely has fine goals. Why shouldn't domestic workers have the same protections as employees working in other industries. Unfortunately, the domestic worker industry is very difficult to regulate because it consists of families that often don't think of themselves as employers.
Parents who hire a nanny often come to think of that person as a member of the family, not an employee. The industry also has very little oversight. With so many independent workers, it'd nearly impossible to make sure that every worker knows his or her rights.
Workers who don't speak English well can also feel too intimidated to demand their rights.
These conditions make it very difficult for the employers of domestic workers to learn about the bill of rights. Still, it's important for state governments to stand up for the protection of all workers. The awareness needed for change will not happen overnight, but as more states consider similar legislation, more families will learn about their responsibilities as employers.