hawaii is second u.s. state to implement basic labor protections for domestic workers

by Tim Phillips

Domestic workers are excluded from many of the most basic federal labor protections, such as overtime pay and meal and rest breaks. In 2010, after six years of organizing, New York became the first state to implement basic labor protections for domestic workers. In California, domestic worker organizations also started organizing approximately nine years ago, but last year Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill of rights for domestic workers that would have enacted major protections for tens of thousands of people.

Today Hawaii will become the second state to pass a domestic workers bill of rights. The protections will take effect immediately. The National Domestic Workers Alliance, a membership organization of housekeepers, nannies, and home health assistants, most of whom are undocumented immigrant women, praised Hawaii for passing the law and is demanding similar legislation in other states. According to a May 2 article on ThinkProgress,

survey by the National Domestic Workers Alliance found that 20 percent of housekeepers and nearly a third of nannies and caregivers make less than the minimum wage. In fact, nearly three-quarters of the domestic workforce is paid less than $13 an hour. Forty percent of nannies and caregivers work more than 40 hours, yet 85 percent aren’t guaranteed overtime pay. About 20 percent of domestic workers report being threatened, insulted, or verbally abused by their employers, a figure that rises to 36 percent for live-in workers, yet they have little recourse to report and address abuse.