The domestic labor industry is fraught with abuse, mistreatment and labor violations, in part because the workforce is comprised of mostly immigrant women. The fact that these laborers work largely outside of the public eye and unregulated by most labor and employment laws only exacerbates the potential for abuse and mistreatment.
In California advocates are pushing for a comprehensive bill of rights which would eliminate discrimination in the domestic labor setting. The California Domestic Worker Bill of Rights would provide domestic workers with basic protections most employees take for granted, such as:
• Equal overtime pay. Currently, personal attendants are excluded from overtime rights and live-in domestic workers receive less protection under overtime laws. The CDWBR would include ALL domestic workers in California’s overtime protections of time and a half after 8 hours in one workday and 40 hours in one workweek and double time after 12 hours in one workday.
• Equal right to worker’s compensation. Domestic workers are carved-out of California’s worker’s compensation laws when they work in private households less than 52 hours or earn less than $100 in the previous 90 days. The CDWBR would cover ALL domestic workers under California’s worker’s compensation laws.
• Equal right to reporting time pay. Personal attendants currently have no right to reporting time pay, when they show up to work and their employer cancels the job. The CDWBR would extend reporting time pay rights that most California workers enjoy to personal attendants.
• Right to 8 hours uninterrupted sleep under adequate conditions. No law currently guarantees domestic workers the right to uninterrupted sleep. Domestic workers often labor around the clock placing themselves and the people they care for at risk of sickness and unintentional mistakes caused by exhaustion. The CDWBR would guarantee domestic workers at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep under adequate conditions.
• Right to cook one’s own food. Unlike most California workers, domestic workers are often confined to the home of their employer and are forced to eat food that is unhealthy or not to their liking. The CDWBR would grant domestic workers the right to make basic decisions regarding the type of food they eat.
Domestic workers deserve the same basic rights and protections as all workers, and this bill of rights is the first step.
Photo from wordridden via flickr.