Democratic lawmakers want better workplace protections for domestic workers, who often work behind closed doors and are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
On Thursday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Sens. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) reintroduced the “Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act,” which would ensure nannies, house cleaners and home care aides have basic rights such as paid sick days, meal and rest breaks, harassment protections and pay for shifts that are canceled last-minute.
Vice President Kamala Harris first introduced this bill in 2019, when she was a U.S. senator from California.
The more than 2 million domestic workers in the U.S. have historically been excluded from basic labor protections under federal and state laws. Currently, only 10 states have bills of rights for domestic workers enshrined in law, including New York, Illinois and California.
The vast majority of domestic workers are women, and they are disproportionately women of color and immigrants.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, domestic workers were on the front lines of the crisis, with many house cleaners abruptly losing their jobs and nannies and home care workers continuing to do essential care work in high-risk conditions while exposed to others indoors.
Meanwhile, undocumented workers were excluded from Congress’s multiple COVID-19 stimulus checks.
In a survey of over 2,400 domestic workers in March, the National Domestic Workers Alliance found that more than a third of the workers reported not receiving any meal and rest breaks, and, of those who did get breaks, only 34% were paid for that time. And when their work was canceled once they had shown up for a job, only 24% of the workers reported getting any pay.