Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Nannies in New York May Get Paid Sick Days, Among Other Benefits

Last week, the New York State Senate passed a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Once that bill is reconciled with the version that was already approved by the Assembly, New York could be the first place in the country to require new rights for nannies, housekeepers and other caregivers.

In other places around the world, domestic workers are already afforded certain protections. For example, in Hong Kong domestic workers are protected with two-year contracts, which require employers to pay a minimum salary, provide days off, and cover their medical care. However, no such regulations exist in the United States.

In New York, this new law would give domestic workers some of those same protections. It will provide six paid holidays, seven sick days, five vacation days, a 14-day termination notice or severance pay, and limits the work week to six days. It would apply to all domestic workers in the state, both documented or undocumented.

While many employers may already be offering these benefits, this law would provide clarity as to what is expected in a workplace where many times the nanny may seem to become part of the family rather than an employee. While the relationship between the nanny and employer may be a unique one, some basic standards need to be in place to ensure fairness.

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