On Friday, July 27, 2018 Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan visited Casa Latina and signed the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights into law.
The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights:
Requires that domestic workers are paid the Seattle minimum wage.
Establishes uninterrupted meal and rest periods, including financial compensation if responsibilities require working without breaks.
Provides one day (24 hours) off in a seven-day period for workers that reside where they are employed.
Prohibits employers from confiscating the documents or other personal effects of their workers.
Institutes a Domestic Workers Standards Board to establish further guidelines.
Why it’s historic: The new ordinance will end the exclusion of nannies and housecleaners from basic workers’ rights laws. It also establishes apioneeringDomestic Workers Standards Board where workers and employers collaborate to establish industry standards on wages, benefits, training, and more. As the first city to pass such a law, Seattle is setting a powerful and historic precedent for domestic workers across the country.
Background: There are 30,000 domestic workers in Seattle, working as housecleaners, nannies, gardeners, and home caregivers. Yet, domestic workers were not historically covered by our most basic labor laws and were often left with few options when facing wage theft or sexual harassment in the workplace.
Experts on labor law call these exclusions a “holdover from slavery.” In practice, they create workplaces ripe for abuse and discrimination.
The result for many domestic workers is an appallingly high level of economic instability, even if they’re working forty hours a week. According to a report from the University of Illinois at Chicago, 23% of domestic workers are unable to save any money for the future; 20% of workers do not always have sufficient food in their own homes; 40% of workers are forced to occasionally pay essential bills late; and 60% of workers spend more than half of their income on rent or mortgage payments.
The Future of Domestic Workers Bill of Rights: Casa Latina is committed to expanding the Domestic Bill of Rights beyond Seattle to state-wide in Washington. In 2019, the domestic worker coalition supported a statewide domestic worker bill of rights introduced by Senator Rebecca Saldana and Representative Monica Stonie.