Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Nanny Law Passes in New York State: Some Say the Law is Useless

Employers Required to Treat Nannies like Employees, Not Slaves
(Photo of NY State Senate)

The New York State Senate passed its version of the Nanny Law. If signed by Governor Paterson, the sweeping bill will mandate overtime pay, vacation, sick and personal time, severance pay, and other added benefits for domestic workers like housekeepers, nannies, and companions to the elderly.

Domestic workers would be required to receive time-and-a-half pay if they work for more than eight hours in a day. Workers who are employed at least 20-hours a week would be given New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Labor Day and Christmas Day off as paid holidays. Forty-hour a week workers would also get one week of paid sick leave a year and five days of paid vacation. Employers would be required to give a domestic worker at least 24-consecutive hours off a week. A domestic worker would be required to receive two weeks notice before being fired under the plan or the employer would have to provide a severance package.

I feel the law requires employers to treat domestic employees like employees, not slaves.

But, there are other opinions not in support of the Nanny Law. For example, in the article Will New York’s Nanny Law Make It Harder for Career Women? Elie Mystal quotes Claudia Deutsch in The Catch 22 of New York’s nanny law in which Deutsch says the law would be hard to regulate, it could bog down the judicial system with paperwork, and make it even harder on parents needing to caregivers.

Are these opinions correct in thinking that the system is set up so that most domestic workers won’t even be able to take advantage of these benefits? so

Are they right in saying that the Nanny Law isn't necessary regulation and is just useless?

23 comments:

Eva said...

Well when a person is illegally treated unfairly at a corporation or other business they can bog down the legal system with paperwork too. That's what happens when employees are treated unfairly. So that rationalization doesn't work for me and hundreds of thousands of other domestic workers in this country. Sometimes you need laws to protect people and this is one of those times. Sad that laws need to be made and some workers may have to sue to have their rights enforced, but better than allowing hard working domestics continue to be mistreated!!
Professional Nanny
Eva Browning

CareerNanny97 said...

I think in order for this law to be successful Nannies in the industry will have to enforce the law when they are working for families and in their Nanny agreements. I also believe that Agencies that are placing Nannies in the states that mandate these laws need to enforce it as well on placements as well as websites who offer Nanny and Family job search. I think in order for this to become a known practice I think Nannies and Nanny Industry Business and Organzations are going to have to step their business game up.

Anonymous said...

I think passing this bill will make a huge difference in the nanny world. For now we can only stand up for ourselves individually and it's hard for young caregivers to know how to negotiate benefits and fair contracts. I don't know anyone else who ever sued when laid off without notice, or sue for umemployment when paid under the table, or ask for time and a half after 40-hours....do you?

I hope this law is passed throughout nation. Time to go to DC.

And for parents offering unfair jobs they wouldn't ever want themselves - shame on you!

Michelle said...

In one of the articles you have linked to it reads: "But for the Biglaw families out there, the real question is whether this law will cause unnecessary problems in a market that already seems to work pretty efficiently…."

Effecient for who? Have you heard of nannygate? Millions of taxes are not paid by domestic workers! If you were the one sleeping in the basement of someone else's house next to a boiler would you think it's efficient? It's slavery as the newsletter says!

talesfromthe(nanny)hood said...

I think this potential law is a tiny little band-aid stuck on a gigantic wound. What is needed is enforcement of employment laws and IRS statutes which would make not paying your nanny legally a true crime. Think of the tax dollars lost each year because so many nannies are paid under the table!

Ultimately, true employment law reform in the nanny/domestic worker universe has to start with forcing employers to pay workers legally. Sure, paid holidays are great, but what about being eligible for unemployment if your family lets you go?

IMO, this law doesn't help with that issue at all, so I am not sure how much positive effect it will have on the domestic workers in NY.

I think it is possible that families who would have hired a nanny before may choose other childcare now to avoid any legal entanglements. That means fewer nanny positions available, and higher nanny unemployment.

Guess we'll see the effects if and when the law passes though!

lovebeingananny said...

Disagree strongly with tales from above. More nannies will not be unemployed because of these laws. These laws simply protect those who aren't already getting these basic rights. The proposed laws are just BASIC LABOR LAWS all workers get no matter what field. For example, unions don't make people lose jobs, they help bring fair salaries and benefits to the workers which in turn eventually leads to greater respect in society overall.

Do you really think a nanny will lose a job over an extra paid day off per year? I have never, ever worked for any family that did not allow me one week of paid sick leave a year and five days of paid vacation.

Laws protect not make people lose jobs. We shouldn't lose our jobs simply because we get sick for a week. I should be able to have paid holidays off or at very least the time and a half overtime when working those holidays.

These most simple, most BASIC labor laws won't cause nannies to be laid off. Have labor laws ever caused higher unemployment? It's just fear of unknown. We deserve the fair labor protection that all workers in America should already have, and get. I'm sorry another nanny can't see the bigger picture of how labor laws protect workers, not get them laid off.

modernizingmarypoppins said...

There are many elements of it that I don’t think go far enough. Or aren't addressed at all, like what is going to be the consequences to those violating this law.

There needs to be real penalties to keep them from becoming repeat offenders like major fines for employers and paying tax penalties for nannies.

It will mean paper trails will need to take place for nannies to make their case, like not being paid in cash but rather check. Taxes taken out or people could get into trouble with the IRS. Or immigration.

Contracts or work agreements that outline hours and pay should exist. Or the courts are going to be filled with nanny said, employer said scenarios.

The question is will nannies do this given they have taken advantage of the laws that have been on the books in the past.

It says nannies are supposed to make time and a half for over time beyond 40 hours a week. I currently am in a position where I work 45 hours a week, and this is the least amount full time job I’ve had in over 25 years as a nanny.

I have always made an hourly rate well above minimum wage. So I wonder if nanny wages will go lower across the boards toward minimum wage so that the time and a half doesn’t become astronomical.

Granted it could mean that a family will hire one nanny to work 4 ten hour days to make sure they have time to get back and forth to work, then hire a second person part time. So I suppose it could mean more jobs for the unemployed nannies out there. But then this means multiple caregivers in the lives of the children and sometimes these people aren’t on the same page and this can get frustrating.

But to only have one day off a week, I already get two. And I like it that way. I did quit a job even when they changed their minds after hiring me and wanted me to work a 6 day week. AND, I also get 10 days paid vacation a year, and extra week more than what’s in this legislation. I suppose if I were a nanny in NY I could always name my price but when the law isn’t on my side, well it wouldn’t be fun.

I also don’t agree with the two week termination severance package, some people are let go with cause. And while it may not be a criminal reason that would make this null and void it’s still not fair to the families if they need to get rid of a bad nanny.

For nannies with the legal right to work in these positions who are being exploited the law is better than not having it. Although, if a nanny is good, has the experience and education she is already going to know how to ask for a fair salary with benefits, perks, and PTO. This is due to those in our industry who have fought for this already. Thanks and appreciation to them.

Anonymous said...

Tales of nannyhood is right that it's just a band-aid. But even so, we should do this. And even if it's hard to regulate doesn't mean we shouldn't make these laws. We need them. Everything helps. I don't see how it can hurt. I don't think more domestics will be unemployed at all. Those who can afford a nanny can do it in a fair way.
Nanny Maria Lopez
Miami FL

Anonymous said...

Do all hourly employees get sick days, paid vacations and a right to two weeks notice before they can be fired? McDonald's fry cooks? Movie Theater popcorn poppers? I don't live in NY (but I have in the past) and I am just shocked that hourly workers get sick days? If other hourly workers don't, why single out nannies? Just to make it harder for working families to employ nannies?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous above,

Full time nannies are salaried employees not hourly employees. You are thinking of high school babysiters. You think the person raising your child shouldn't be well compensated, but to be disgruntled and leave with high turnover like a McDonalds fry cook?

It is about time they passed this law! I have always found it unbelievable how wealthy American professionals underpay the women who care for their children. It is fitting that New York State is the first state to have such protections since the number of nannies in the NYC metropolitan area is probably greater than in the rest of the country combined.

Steph 6 said...

But modernizingmarypoppins, does any nanny make overtime? My boss is expected to stay at her job each day until the work is done, no overtime either. But, making $600,000 a yr you stay until job is done.
To anonymous comparing us to McDonald's servers is ridiculous. If you want nannies to come and go and hate their job then go ahead and treat them unfairly. But resentful nannies may act resentful towards your kids. Also that's rude for McDonalds employees. Why shouldn't they have the same rights too?

modernizingmarypoppins said...

In Maryland nannies can get overtime.

There is also this link regarding nannies too
http://www.nannynetwork.com/library/Parentlib/flsa.cfm

Not all full time nannies are salaried. Contracts are often written up to say an hourly rate of pay. (This includes contracts created by nanny agencies.)

I do hear what you are saying Steph6 about some employers being on salary don't get overtime, and live in nannies often don't qualify for overtime either.

However what is in my own contract that I negotiated is that I will make X amount an hour. And if it goes over my scheduled time I was still make that amount for each additional hour. It is also in my contract that I will be paid a minimum of a 40 hour work whether I'm needed to work it or not. (I have this even though I am a live in currently)

Actually, in reading about the McDonald's employee as an example, there are hundreds of types of jobs that do have similar conditions to these employees. So one could say why do nannies get preferential treatment. And many comments in the various articles are asking this.

Is any of it right no? But it is what it is.

lovebeingananny said...

Anonymous above saying hourly employees like McDonalds workers and movie theater workers is biggoted or cliassist (don't know the proper term) but those are hateful comments. Plenty of ard working, tax paying mothers and fathers work at McDonalds and Movie theaters too and they deserve rights too.

Classist to assume just because it's a job you don't want to do that hourly employees don't deserve sick days and overtime, etc. Biggot.

I had a dad boss once who got mad when their cleaning lady took a week off to visit her son in college overseas in England. He said, "I can't even afford a vacation like that yet she goes?" Another classist. Why not? She worked hard, saved money, visiting her son in school in England. He's a classist, you are a classist.

People like you that look down on others due to their job choice, or povertly level are scum. As a nanny I'm thrilled to not have to work for you!

AuPairDebbie said...

Anyone opposed to labor laws is crazy. It would be nice if parents would all know the laws but they don't. Passing the law is a good thing. Shouldn't increase unemployment. No catch 22s about it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tales from the NannyHood. If nannies don't stand up for themselves and let the parents know what the laws are- they are still going to be taken advantage of. Professional career nannies have been doing this for years- INA- NANC member nannies all know that what the bill proproses has been the norm/general guidelines in the nanny industry in any state for years.
If nannies don't allow themselves to be taken advantage of -they won't be. If they don't stand up for themselves, No law is going to protect them.
Also if a nanny is protected under these laws- what skills is she required to bring to the family?
I just don't see how this is going to be regulated. Also it seems it's just going to be a bring drain on the tax payers- as usual-if any of this does go to court.
Personally I don't think anything will change at all for the nannies who don't stand up for themselves and pass on jobs that are not fair.

As for the lady who does not think hourly employees deserve vacation or sick days.
If you require a nanny all year round and she is commited to you for the hours you need- I think it's only fair to give her paid sick days and vacation days.

Bottom line- treat your nanny well and most likley she will treat you even better.

Part of ~having~ a great employee is ~being~ a great employer.

Tobago Nanny said...

How can this law possibly hurt? Doesn't make sense that we'll lose jobs just because parents are forced to follow labor laws. We domestics should never accept lower than minimum wage, no paid sick days, and so on. Yes, it's our fault to accept bad jobs but the nanny law helps, not hurts us. Doesn't make sense to me that it hurts us or will cause more unemployment in anyway.

Anonymous said...

This nanny law is not useless. Anytime we can inform the public about professional nannies we are doing a good thing. It isn't useless and to keep a good nanny parents should do a lot more than listed in the law. Labor laws aren't useless.
Reyna H NY NY

Best Nanny Newsletter said...

I don't think the law is useless. It's great. Although, if the government cannot successfully regulate wall street or the oil industry it's doubtful it will be able to regulate the domestic industry in private homes. But the law is certainly a good step towards labor rights for domestic workers.

Anonymous said...

reading these posts of nannies saying the law is useless upsets me. i think it's important to realize these laws are so important. very essential to protect us. i feel we have learned to be helpless in a way and it's sad to think that such a law is useless. this extends to all workers not just domestics.

Tobago Nanny said...

I am upset to read nannies think this is a useless law. You don't think people complained about civil rights laws? Allowing women and blacks rights bogs down the legal system too. Doesn't mean it should not be a law. If not for labor laws why wouldn't all employers underpay and treat employees poorly? It is our right and if some employers can't understand that now there will finally be a law to protect our rights. We now know we can protect ourselves legally! That's huge. That's wonderful! Very necessary.

Anonymous said...

Good labor laws are only as good as their enforcers, which is something that we should consider: a country can put anything it likes into its legal code, but legislation is useless without inspection agents and law enforcement to back it up. For example, most countries have laws against child labor, but the use of child labor is a perennial problem in the developing world.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone of the over 185 nannies (I see follow this blog)a member of Domestic Workers United?

Please let me know if you are because it seems like most nannies aren't willing to participate in helping this important law/cause. I feel like nannies complain about not being respected yet don't help causes like Domestic Workers United?

To those not in support of the law or feel it is useless do you think writing angry blog posts or complaining to your friends about domestic workers rights is going to help the industry as a whole? I think passing the law is awesome and more likely to help then getting mad and gossiping or complaining.

Maria Lopez
Miami FL

NANNY RIGHTS NOW said...

Some of the commeters are as pretentious as the parents who pay their help minimum wage with no benefits. The attitude of some in these comments are biggots against immigrants. Yep, guess what, people don't pay taxes because they are struggling. Do those who only think tax payers deserve rights think it's ok to beat a homeless person? Of course not. Is it ok to steal from an immigrant? Of course not. Should someone not be allowed to vote because they are poor? Of course not. Should people be allowed to only hire whites not minorities? Of course not. But then why should be allowed to treat anyone like modern aged slaves?

I'm sad you think only tax payers deserve minimum wage and benefits when I'm sure you'll take any weekend, extra babysitting under the table. I bet your boss's pay a CPA plenty to figure out any loop hole they can find to pay less money in taxes.