Monday (June 15), Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced a national Domestic Workers Bill of Rights with a goal to extend benefits and protections to employees who work in homes, such as nannies, home care workers, and house cleaners.
Many who work in the home have long been excluded from federal labor laws and aren’t entitled to overtime pay or a minimum wage. They also can’t get workers compensation if they’re injured on the job or unemployment benefits if they’re fired.
Harris and Jayapal are hoping to change that with companion bills they introduced to give domestic workers basic labor rights. The legislation is officially titled the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act and would essentially amend federal labor laws.
“[Domestic workers] provide essential care and support to aging parents, people with disabilities, children, and homes,” Harris said in a statement in coordination with announcing the bill. “However, our nation’s domestic workers have not been afforded the same rights and benefits as nearly every other worker, and it’s time we change that.”
Currently, there are over 2.5 million domestic workers in the United States, 90 percent of which are women and more than half of those, women of color. Domestic workers have historically been excluded from basic labor protections, much of this exclusion has its roots from slavery.
The median annual salary for a home health aid was $23,000 in 2017, slightly above the $20,420 federal poverty level for a family of three. Around 88 percent of domestic workers don’t have paid time off or likewise benefits.
Kudos to Sen. Harris for not just talking but introducing bill that will create change.