New York First to Protect Domestic Workers with Extended Labor Laws

NY labor laws are stepping it up, raising the bar for other states in the protection of their domestic workers.  The new Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights was signed by Governor David Patterson on August 31, 2010, and has become effective as of November 29, 2010.  These are the first state labor laws in history that gives labor rights to domestic workers.  The new Bill of Rights amends the labor law in New York as well as the New York State Human Rights law, and the New York Workers’ Compensation law.

Here’s the short version.  If you are an employee, working in the home of your employer on domestic related activities such as care giving, and house cleaning, you now have the right to FLSA overtime pay benefits for any hours worked over a 40 hour workweek.  If you live with your employer, your overtime wage of 1.5 times your normal rate-of-pay starts after 44 hours in one workweek.

Other provisions to the Bill include entitlements to a day of rest for 24 hours every seven days, or if you choose to work it, you will receive overtime pay.  Domestic workers now get at least 3 paid vacation days, and are protected against any form of harassment based on, race, religion, gender or national origin, as well as, protection against sexual harassment.  Also, those who qualify as domestic workers under the provisions of the Bill now have union organizing power.  The new legislation provides that the Commissioner of Labor will report on the feasibility of collective bargaining rights to the governor and state legislature.

Those who aren’t covered under the bill are:

  1. workers employed by a family member, or those who care for a family member,
  2. those working in government funded programs providing delivery services, and
  3.  companionship services.

The landmark legislation is an exciting new extension to NY labor laws, and it will be very interesting to see which states follow in their footsteps to protect more of their workers.

Michael Lore is the founder of The Lore Law Firm. For over 25 years, his law practice and experience extend from representing individuals in all aspects of labor & employment law, with a concentration in class and collective actions seeking to recover unpaid back overtime wages, to matters involving executive severance negotiations, non-compete provisions and serious personal injury (work and non-work related). He has handled matters both in the state and federal courts nationwide as well as via related administrative agencies. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Michael by using our chat functionality.