It still hasn’t passed — a New York State law to protect the rights of 200,000 domestic workers such as nannies, housekeepers and elder-care givers, more than 90 percent of whom are women of color or immigrants.
“This bill, which has been battling its way through the New York State legislature for five years, aims to provide basic protections to many of the estimated 200,000 nannies, housekeepers and eldercare-givers who labor in New York State. Backed by a diverse coalition of labor and religious groups and even employers, it calls for severance and overtime pay, advance notice of termination, one day off a week, holidays, healthcare and annual cost of living increases, among other fundamental rights. By most accounts, it should have passed in June, but an epic power struggle in the State Senate halted all business for a month. Now domestic workers are hoping their bill will pass in September”, wrote Lizzy Ratner in The Nation.
It’s now almost November — and still no bill.
The legislators in Albany are a regional and national laughingstock as it is, our Governor now garnering the lowest approval ratings of any New York governor in decades. Come on, boys. For once, do the right thing.
A new bill in Ontario, Canada has also been introduced this week, to protect domestic workers there. The Toronto Star reports:
“Nanny recruiters would face a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to a year in jail if they get caught “directly or indirectly” charging foreign caregivers a fee to work in Ontario under legislation introduced Wednesday.
The jail term is the toughest penalty in Canada in such cases, Labour Minister Peter Fonseca said after revealing details of the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act.
Premier Dalton McGuinty described the legislation as an overdue helping hand to those foreign nannies who uproot themselves to find a better life here.
“Ontarians feel the responsibility … that you’ll be treated fairly, that there will be rules in place that respect your human dignity.”
I don’t have kids, so have never employed a nanny, but I know people who’ve done that tough and demanding job. Just because someone is working in your kitchen, laundry room or backyard doesn’t mean they don’t need and deserve the same legal rights and protection as other workers. These are the women, and it is overwhelmingly women, who wipe your baby’s bum, cheer up your demented and aging father-in-law and ferry your treasured teens to soccer practice. Treat them with the respect they deserve.
If employers can’t figure this out, we need laws to compel them.