Any good employment lawyer will tell you that employee rights laws and wage disputes aren’t just about holding corporations accountable. At the core, these actions are about protecting people, defending their humanity, and ensuring vulnerable workers aren’t taken advantage of. We have come a long way over the decades to expand those protections and increase quality of life for more hard-working citizens in California and beyond.
Unfortunately, there are still a number of industries wherein worker protections are scant. Such is the case in Seattle, where the recently formed Seattle Domestic Workers Alliance is pushing for a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, according to a report from Curbed Seattle. This would include mandated contracts between domestic workers and those who employ them, as well as a commission to oversee domestic labor standards. As our employment lawyers can explain, a domestic worker is someone who works within the household of their employer. This could be a nanny, housekeeper, in-home caregiver, cook, gardener, etc. And right now, in Seattle, this group is feeling more pressure than other workers to try to make ends meet.
A recent survey from SDWA illustrated the issue. Researchers surveyed 174 of the 30,000 domestic workers, focusing on nannies, gardeners, and house cleaners. Results showed 81 percent of respondents would be classified as “very low-income” using standards set by Department of Housing and Urban Development. They said they do not receive the same protections as other employees: 53 percent responded they did not receive overtime pay; 39 percent said they receive no sick time; and 85 percent said they are not protected by workers’ compensation in the event of an injury on the job. Benefits are even more measly, with 54 percent of respondents having insurance – only 6 percent of that provided by an employer. More than one-third of these workers get no vacation days and a whopping 94 percent do not get paid family medical leave. Continue reading