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Seattle First City to Pass Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda sponsored the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, which the Seattle City Council passed unanimously this afternoon, making Seattle the first city in the country to create laws that specifically protect nannies, caretakers, house cleaners, gardeners, and other domestic workers.

Council Bill 119286 establishes the following labor standards for domestic workers:

  • Hiring entities must pay domestic workers the minimum hourly wage;
  • Domestic workers must receive proper rest and meal breaks, including a 30-minute uninterrupted meal break if they work more than five consecutive hours for the same hiring entity, and a 10-minute rest break if they work more than four consecutive hours, or pay in lieu;
  • A domestic worker who resides or sleeps at their place of employment will not be required to work more than six consecutive days without an unpaid 24-hour period of consecutive rest;
  •  Hiring entities will not be allowed to retain a domestic worker’s personal effects and documents; and,
  • The legislation establishes a Domestic Workers Standards Board, which will be made up of workers, hiring entities, worker organizations and community members. The board will convene during the first quarter of 2019, and will be tasked with recommending how to implement new labor standards, such as retirement benefits, worker’s compensation and sick leave.

“For far too long, domestic workers have lived and worked in the shadows of our economy. Domestic workers – who are primarily women, immigrants and people of color – and hiring entities have called for more protections. This bill extends basic labor protections to those whose work makes it possible for so many people to go to work, knowing their loved ones and home are cared for,” said Councilmember Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide), Chair of the Housing, Health, Energy and Workers’ Rights Committee. “I want to thank my Council colleagues, the workers, the hiring entities, the Mayor, advocates and community members who all came to the table to work on this legislation. Together, we will continue to advance workers’ rights so every worker in Seattle can work in a respected and regulated environment.”

“Domestic workers are caregivers, life givers, and they’re valued. This legislation improves the working situation for both workers and employers, and sheds light on the grey economy, impacting the lives of those who leave their own children to care for other families and care for our homes,” said Councilmember Debora Juarez (District 5, North Seattle), and Vice Chair of the Housing, Health, Energy and Workers’ Rights Committee.

“This legislation shows that we value all workers. It also demonstrates an approach to good governance, as this legislation went through a collaborative process with input from workers, employers, worker organizations and the community,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw (District 7, Pioneer Square to Magnolia). “I want to thank Councilmember Mosqueda for her leadership and for sponsoring this important piece of legislation that offers new protections for domestic workers and provides guidelines and information for our responsible employers.”

Protections for domestic workers will be implemented on July 1, 2019 and enforced by the City’s Office of Labor Standards. There are approximately 33,000 domestic workers in Seattle, according to a report by Seattle Domestic Workers Alliance. Eight other states have passed protections for Domestic Workers. Seattle is the first city.

 

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