July 1, 2010

Domestic Workers to Get Minimum Wage, Weekly Day of Rest and Other Protections Under Assembly Legislation

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Labor Committee Chair Susan John today announced that the Assembly passed legislation expanding the rights of domestic workers (A.1470-B/Wright) including nannies, companions for the elderly and housekeepers.

"The common sense legislation passed today ensures that equal protections are offered to domestic workers," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "Although most employers are honest and law-abiding, there are numerous accounts of employees - especially domestic workers - being underpaid, overworked, and harassed. This is absolutely unacceptable. We must amend the law to ensure that domestic workers are treated with respect and given a fair wage."

"With passage of this legislation, the Assembly is advancing the rights of workers who are isolated from the protections enjoyed by many hardworking men and women across New York," said John (D-Rochester). "Domestic workers have toiled under the will of their employers without any recourse for ill-treatment for far too long. Today, we are offering an opportunity for domestic workers to provide for and spend more time with their families."

"For far too long domestic workers have labored tirelessly without the labor protections available to almost every other group of workers throughout New York State," said Assemblyman Keith Wright (D-Harlem). "They have been subject to abuse, long hours without respite, dangerous working conditions, and they have had nowhere to turn for justice. This law will change that equation. This is the first piece of legislation of its kind in the nation and for the last six years I have been working hard to ensure that New York State continues to support the progressive ideals which allowed us to set the original standard for labor protections in America. I applaud the tenacity of all of the domestic workers who lobbied, advocated and rallied for this legislation for many, many years and helped our state reach this historic point. I have been proud to stand alongside them in this struggle."

Domestic workers are explicitly excluded from certain protections under both the national Fair Labor Standards Act and New York State law. This has resulted in an entire industry of workers who may be subjected to sub-minimum wage, no days of rest and physical and or sexual harassment.

The legislation would include a new section under the Human Rights law to protect domestic workers from abuse after they have been hired.

In addition, the legislation would: