by Alisa Roth
A law being introduced in New York State tomorrow hopes to protect the rights of domestic workers, including nannies, housekeepers and elder-care providers, who are excluded from many common protections enjoyed by workers in other industries. The new law would help mistreated domestic workers if they’ve been forced to work overtime without extra pay or have been let go without warning, instances where formally, there was nothing the worker could legally do.
Priscilla Gonzalez has been pushing the bill as director of the Domestic Workers United, an unofficial workers union. “The domestic workers bill of rights in New York State is going to guarantee basic rights like sick days, holidays, vacations,” she says.
Gonzalez says her organization figures there are around 200,000 domestic workers in the New York City area, with many more in the rest of the state. Annette Bernhardt, policy director at the National Employment Law Project, agrees these workers need the full protection of workplace laws and the full enforcement by government agencies. “That’s really what this bill is trying to accomplish,” she says.
If it passes, this law would be the first of its kind in the U.S. But advocates in other states, including California, are hoping to replicate it.
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