San Francisco Wants To Ensure House Cleaners, Nannies Get Paid Sick Leave

An app would let domestic workers accrue pay they’re owed — but in practice rarely get — to take sick days or care for loved ones.

House cleaners and nannies in San Francisco already have the right to paid sick leave — but now officials want to make it easier for them to actually get that paid time off.

Supervisor Hilary Ronen introduced a new city ordinance on Tuesday that would allow domestic workers who work for private employers to accrue sick leave benefits, even if they work in chunks of a few hours at a time for several different employers.

If passed, the new law would also mandate that the city create an app for workers and employers to input a worker’s hours and calculate the pay they’re owed for time off.

Under current law, domestic workers are technically supposed to get one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours they work, but “it almost never happens,” Ronen said at a rally for the legislation on Tuesday.

Privately employed house cleaners and nannies often work a few hours a week or month for several different employers, many of whom don’t know that they owe their workers sick leave pay.

This proposed law, written by domestic workers with legislative staff, would be the first of its kind in the country, Ronen’s team said.

“House cleaners who care for our homes, and nannies and caregivers who care for our loved ones, need access to paid time off in case they get sick, need to take care of their sick child or loved one, or need to just take a day to rest. How about that?” said organizers with the California Domestic Workers Coalition at the event on Tuesday outside San Francisco City Hall.

“They deserve access to paid time off so they don’t have to lose wages to take care of their loved ones or themselves.”

Over 90% of domestic workers in the U.S. are women, the majority of them women of color, and 46% of domestic workers are immigrants, according to a 2012 national study of domestic workers.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many domestic workers faced abrupt firings and cancellations as coronavirus cases mounted, leaving them with no pay from one day to the next. And undocumented workers were excluded from all three rounds of the federal government’s stimulus checks.

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