Nannies Get A Holiday Gift They Really Want — A Tough New Law To Protect Their Rights

A child and her nanny
Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a gift for nannies — one that will fit them to a tee. A tough new law has just been passed to ensure their legal rights are protected.

Anyone who charges a placement or recruitment fee to a caregiver to work in Ontario now faces fines of up to $50,000 and a year in jail.

The Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, which passed into law late Wednesday, also makes it an offence to confiscate passports or personal documents from caregivers, and empowers provincial Labour Ministry investigators to retrieve them.

“Respect for the dignity and worth of others is one of the core things of this bill,” Labour Minister Peter Fonseca said, adding the new law “seeks to protect those who protect and nurture others every day of their working lives.

“They care for our loved ones who cannot care for themselves.”

American law calls them B-1s, domestic servants but Google the terms “nanny protection” and you’ll find a dozen ways to protect your kids from a caregiver, not how that caregiver — who is most likely to be female, an immigrant and poorly paid  — can and must protect her own rights.

In some measure, it’s a feminist issue pitting women of privilege against poorer, usually minority women who leave their own kids, often in another country, to care for others. Nannies are a key player in many affluent homes, allowing ambitious women to climb the corporate ladder and better their own economic lives — or enjoy a life of even greater leisure; some families have two or even three nannies, working 24/7.

But the law turns a blind eye — at least in New York state — to nannies’ needs, where a similar law has never  been passed, despite several attempts. Why can’t New York lawmakers do the right thing?

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