Domestic Workers Standards Board Recommendations


Last month, Casa Latina, along with a coalition of worker organizations, domestic employer
groups, policy attorneys, and academics led a survey of over 300 Seattle domestic workers and their employers about what support they needed from the city council, especially during COVID-19. Based on the survey results, on Thursday, April 8th, the Domestic Workers Standards Board (DWSB) submitted their recommendations to the Mayor and the City Council’s Finance and Housing Committee. Their report/recommendations provide a framework for the next phase of domestic worker policy in Seattle to continue improving the working condition of domestic workers citywide. 

The DWSB, which was created as part of the historic Domestic Workers Ordinance in 2019, is made up of domestic workers, employers, private households, worker organizations, and the public. Their mission is to improve the working conditions of all domestic workers in Seattle by putting forward ideas that come from the experiences of people in and around this work. 

In the submitted report, four urgent recommendations are outlined for the city to act on. Some key points from each of the four recommendation are as follows:

Invest in community expertise and building trust

  • Expand the community outreach and Education Fund to create specific ongoing funding for domestic worker outreach.
  • Allocate some of this funding for ordinance-focused staff members or initiatives at community organizations that work with domestic workers or domestic employers.

Provide more materials and resources to domestic workers and hiring entities

  • Publish new materials & provide funding for the translation, printing, & dissemination of additional DWO materials, whether through mail or in-person, to appropriate venues.
  • Address these third-party hiring platforms, many of which are completely non-compliant with the DWO but still serve as an essential source of income for workers
  • Research options and provide support for affordable health care to all domestic workers.

Implement policy changes to improve the Domestic Workers Ordinance

  • Require hiring entities to provide domestic workers with information about their rights and the conditions of their work.

Mandate portable benefits for domestic workers 

  • Create a portable system with benefits that do not depend on any particular hiring entity, and multiple hiring entities can each contribute their fair share of benefits.
  • Paid time off must be available for all domestic workers, whether they are employees or independent contractors.
  • All hiring entities will make contributions to a centralized account, which is then available when the domestic worker needs to take paid time off. 
  • Strong enforcement protections of paid time off (PTO) benefits to ensure that workers can use PTO without fear of retaliation, loss of work, or negative employer references

Click here to read the complete recommendations made by the DWSB. Para la version en espanol haga click aqui

Why are these recommendations important and urgent? The COVID-19 pandemic has created an incredible economic crisis for large numbers of working people. One of the hardest-hit groups has been domestic workers. For decades, domestic workers have been excluded from labor laws that have prevented them from working safely and with dignity. Despite being the hidden engine of our economy, they have not been valued for the work that they do day in and day out. The current crisis further illustrates the severe impact of years of exclusion from labor rights and the urgent need for basic work protections such as paid time off and paid leave. The DWSB recommendations (in particular portable benefits) are a great first step in addressing these issues and working towards a safer and fairer future for domestic workers in Seattle.