Senate Passes Bill to Protect Domestic Workers

The Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a bill to establish a bill of rights for domestic workers, establishing clear labor standards and protections in the workplace, Senator Patricia Jehlen announced.

“All workers deserve equal protections in the workplace,” said Senator Jehlen. “This legislation is a step forward to ensuring that the standards for workers’ rights are high and consistent across the board.”

The bill defines domestic workers as individuals who do any of the following work: housekeeping, home management, nanny services, caretaking, laundering, cooking and providing home companion services. It also clarifies that domestic workers are eligible for government services and benefits, like unemployment insurance, workers compensation and minimum wage protections.

This bill establishes clear rules for sleeping, meal and rest periods, as well as requires that female domestic workers receive at like 8 weeks’ maternity leave if they are full-time employees.

“The vitality of our workforce depends on our efforts to extend the same rights and protections to all workers across the Commonwealth,” Senate President Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “This bill is necessary to achieving these standards and for cutting down potential for abuse in the workplace.”

To increase protections for domestic workers, the bill includes a privacy right to prevent employers from interfering with a worker’s personal communication and effects as well as housing protections in the event that a worker is terminated without cause. Domestic workers who work less than 16 hours per week are also protected from employer retaliation for making a wage complaint.

In addition, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination is given jurisdiction over domestic workers and personal care attendants for sexual or other harassment claims. The Attorney General’s office is tasked with enforcing this domestic workers’ bill of rights, providing resources on its website for employers along with working with the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development to develop a multilingual outreach program to inform domestic workers about their rights and responsibilities.

This bill will now be sent back to the House.

- Submitted by State Senator Patricia Jehlen’s office

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 at 7:00 pm and is filed under State House News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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