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Domestic Workers Rights: NY and California

September 2013 - In California domestic workers will be entitled to overtime pay for working more than nine hours in a day, or 45 hours in a week, under a new law signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown. The bill takes effect in January 2014 and run until January 2017 unless legislators renew the bill.

In July 2011 New York passed the nation's first Domestic Worker Protection Law - see below. The New York legislation gives in-house workers like housekeepers and nannies basic labor protections like overtime pay, guaranteed sleeping time, five-day workweeks, as well as meal and rest breaks. 

Domestic Worker's Bill of Rights New York

Your employer must:

  • pay you the minimum wage 
  • pay you each week
  • pay you overtime pay - one and one half (1.5) times your regular working hour rate of pay after 40 hours of work in a week, or 44 hours if you live in your employer's home;
  • give you 24 hour rest day every 7 days, or overtime pay if you agree to work on that day
  • give you 3 paid rest days each year after one year of work for the same employer;
  • not deduct money from your pay without your written permission, except for deductions authorized by law for your benefit, e.g.: income tax withholding, social security, medicare, health insurance, automatic savings plans;
  • give you always written notifications of deductions;
  • not take money from your wages for breakage or similar reasons;
  • keep keep detailed payroll and time records;

    If your employer gives you meals and living accommodation, your employer may get a specific credit toward the minimum wage he or she pays to you.
Who is a Domestic Worker?

According to the New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights you are a domestic worker if you work in another person's home:

  • caring for children or an elderly person;
  • keeping house (cleaning and cooking);
  • doing other domestic jobs in and around the house (gardening, repairs).
Not a Citizen of the US?

The NY Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and the NY State Labor Laws protects all you when you are:

  • a citizen of the United States
  • a legal permanent resident
  • an immigrant with other status (e.g. temporary protected status)
  • an undocumented worker

    You do need to have a work permit in order to receive unemployment insurance.
Unemployment and Compensation Insurance

If your employer pays $500 or more in quarterly wages, he or she has to pay your Unemployment Insurance (UI). The UI is only available to workers whit a legal permit to work in the United States.

If you work at least 40 hours per week your employer must also provide you with:

  • Workers' Compensation Insurance - for medical expenses if you are hurt on the job;
  • Disability Benefits Insurance - pays you up to $170 per week for up to 26 weeks if you are injured, sick (defined to include pregnancy) and cannot work. Your employer can charge you up to 60 cents a week for the costs of the policy.
Sexual Harassment Protection

The New York bill protects you from certain forms of harassment based on gender, sex, race, religion or national origin, or harassment after complaining about such harassment under the New York State Human Rights Law against. You can file a complaint with the NY State Division of Human Rights.

Exempt NY Domestic Workers Bill of Right Law

The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights doesn't apply to domestic workers:

  • who work on casual basis, such as a part-time babysitter
  • who are related to their employers or the person for whom they care

 

If you work for an agency, the laws that apply to you are different than for someone who works directly for a family;

  • Overtime pay and a day of rest:
    doesn't apply to you if you perform companionship services - only care taking for a person without additional work as cleaning or cooking.
  • Protection Human Rights Law
    when you work for an agency and you perform companionship services you can't bring suit for harassment against the family for which you work. If the agency has at least 4 employees and you are fired or subject to harassment by the agency you can bring suit against the agency under the Human Rights Law.
  • Employment Benefits (insurance/worker's compensation)
    when you work for an agency these benefits can differ from the ones as described in the Domestic Workers Rights Bill.
Violations of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

To file a complaint concerning the NY Domestic Wokers Bill of Rights you can call the Labor Department: 1-888-52-LABOR. Or you can go to a district office of the Labor Department near you.

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