WHY BILL AB889?
Domestic workers have historically been exempted from laws governing the rights afforded to other workers – decent wages, a safe and healthy workplace health, workers compensation and other labor protections. Domestic workers are among the most isolated and vulnerable workforce in the state. The unique nature of their work requires protections to prevent abuse and mistreatment from occurring behind closed doors, out of the public eye. This bill provides domestic workers with industry-specific protections to use kitchen facilities and cook their own food, and creates standards for sleep, sick days, living wage increases, and paid vacations.
This bill seeks to remove the exclusion of domestic workers from all rights provided to all California workers under Wage Order 15:
Meal and Rest Breaks: This bill provides domestic workers the same right that all other California workers have to a 30 minute meal break after 5 hours of work and 10 minute rest breaks after 4 hours of work.
Overtime Pay: This bill extends to all domestic workers the same right to overtime pay that other California workers enjoy.
Reporting Time Pay: This bill extends to domestic workers the same protection that other California workers have to the right to be paid if they arrive for work and their employer cancels or significantly reduces their shift.
This bill also seeks to remove the exclusion of domestic workers from all other rights provided to California workers:
Workers Compensation: This bill eliminates the current requirement that domestic workers must work 52 hours and earn more than $100 in the previous 90 days to be eligible for worker’s compensation coverage. Current law excludes domestic workers from the same protections that other California workers enjoy.
This bill also provides domestic workers with industry-specific protections and standards:
Uninterrupted Sleep: This bill provides domestic workers who live-in or work 24 hour shifts the right to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep under adequate conditions. Domestic workers often labor around the clock putting themselves and those they care for at risk of sickness and injury caused by exhaustion.
Use of Kitchen Facilities: This bill provides domestic workers who work for more than five hours, the right to use kitchen facilities at no charge to cook their own food, which is essential because domestic workers often come from different cultural backgrounds and eat different foods then their employers. Also, unlike most workers, domestic workers are often confined to their workplace and are unable to leave their workplace to go get food.
Other Rights Domestic Workers are fighting for but are not currently Part of the Bill:
Safe and Healthy Workplace: This bill extends California’s health and safety protections provided by Cal-OSHA to domestic workers.
Paid Sick Days: This bill entitles domestic workers to accrue one hour of sick leave for every thirty hours worked. Paid sick days will ensure that domestic workers have time off to seek medical care and are able to recover from illness and prevent passing on their illnesses to small children, the disabled or elderly people they care for. Currently 62% of private sector workers receive paid sick leave1.
Paid Vacation Days: This bill enables domestic workers to accrue one hour of vacation benefits for every thirty hours worked. Paid vacation days are critical to ensuring that domestic workers who live-in with their employer or work extremely long hours are able to spend time with their own families. Currently 78% of private sector employees receive paid vacation2.
Cost of Living Increase: This bill affords domestic workers an annual wage increase in an amount corresponding to the prior year’s increase in the Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners computed by California Department of Industrial Relations. Domestic workers’ isolated working conditions make employees more vulnerable to wage discrimination.
Notice of Termination: This bill gives domestic workers the right to written notice 21 days before termination or severance pay in lieu of notice. Domestic workers who live at their workplace are particularly vulnerable because upon termination they can lose their job and home at the same time, putting them at risk of homelessness. This bill also affords protections for consumers by providing an exemption from this provision in cases where an employee causes intentional physical or psychological harm to a person or property.
In California, there are around 200,000 domestic workers who serve as housekeepers, nannies, and caregivers in private homes. Domestic workers are primarily immigrant women who work in private households in order to provide for their own families as the primary income earner. The role of domestic workers is essential to California as it enables others to participate in the workforce. Without these domestic workers many Californians would be forced to forgo their own jobs to address their household needs, the result being that the well-being of many California families and the economy as a whole would suffer. However, despite the importance of their work, domestic workers have historically received wages well below the poverty line and continue to be excluded from some of the most fundamental labor protections other Californian workers enjoy.