Lawmakers in the state of Massachusetts have fashioned and proposed a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights that would solidify rights and extend benefits of the state’s domestic workers. Domestic workers are anyone working as a nanny, caregiver, or housekeeper.
Currently, there are about 67,000 domestic workers in the state of Massachusetts. The bill’s sponsors, Rep. Michael Moran (D-Brighton) and Sen. Anthony Petruccelli (D-Boston), created the bill to require contractual agreements between employers and domestic workers that illustrate pay, precise duties, time off, and sick time. Also, domestic workers will have legal protections in the event of filing harassment/abuse complaints against an employer.
Massachusetts has a sizable population of wealthy people, therefore many of the domestic workers are working in private homes, which makes any sort of standards for working conditions tough to maintain. Domestic workers are at the whims of their private employers.
President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO Steven Tolman said “Who would oppose standards, basic standards of dignity and humanity?”
There have been many reports of mistreatment already. Some have reported sexual harassment, unfair pay, and one even reported that she was kicked out of the way by a client. But for fear that they may lose their jobs, most domestic workers remain quiet. Should the bill get passed, incidents can be reported without fear of retaliation.
Just in September, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a similar piece of legislation into state law. Much like the emerging effort in Massachusetts, AB241, the California Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, protects and extends benefits the benefits of caregivers, housekeepers, and nannies in the state.
Now that AB241 has become state law, the 200,000 California domestic workers enjoy overtime pay, meal breaks, and “adequate sleeping conditions for live-in workers.”
However, AB241 took almost seven years to make it from proposition to the law books. The Massachusetts bill will require staunch and undying support in the state legislature if the law is to be made into law soon.
As the Boston Globe reported, before the bill can be reviewed and considered by the state congress, the bill would need to be approved by the Legislature’s Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, among many others.