Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Have Your Workers Rights Ever Been Violated?

Whether You Love it or Hate it, You Must Develop an Opinion About it!

The CA Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

The California Assembly approved the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (CDWBR). Whether you will ultimately support it, or hate it, my goal is to make you learn about it and develop an opinion about it.

The legislature of the State of California is now considering the CDWBR to give legal protection to domestic workers, including nannies. The goal is to provide recognition of domestic workers as a real workforce and to provide a set of basic protections based on the unique conditions facing domestic workers employed in the private home.

Here's the general overview of the basic arguments of those who oppose the bill and those who support the bill:

Those who oppose the bill say that government regulations are expensive, burdensome, and unnecessary. Critics of the bill want the hiring and the compensation of domestic workers to remain solely between the worker (nanny) and the employer (parent) and left to the forces of the free market. For example, if a nanny or housekeeper are mistreated they should just leave the job.

Those who support the bill say that if the laws and job market continue as they have, (without domestic worker rights), the same domestic worker injustices that exist today will continue. If changes aren't made, supporters of the bill believe that in-home employees will continue to be the poorest of the working poor.

Those who support the bill believe that employers (parents) that already refuse to pay their domestic help (nannies) legally on-the-books or to pay them fair market rates (such as at least minimum wage) won't do so without laws. Supporters of the bill believe that domestic workers, including nannies, require industry-specific regulations unique to the nature of their jobs and responsibilities.

Those who do not support the bill also believe that the CDWBR destroys the special relationship of workers such as nannies within a family. They claim that the bond between the caregiver and parent is more important than some specific government labor protections.

Those who support the domestic worker and this bill say that this relationship is often exploited to the detriment of the nanny, especially when the employee is a live-in.

Finally, opponents of the bill claim that the CDWBR will doom an effective, vital, and unregulated system of domestic worker hiring and compensation already in place.

Supporters of the bill counter that a similar bill has already become law in the State of New York. The New York bill had the same dire predictions by opponents, yet they have not occurred. Despite the passing of the Domestic Workers Rights Bill in NY, the in-home employee market is still active and has not been negatively impacted.

Tomorrow we will begin examining the proposed bill point-by-point.

Have you ever felt that your workers rights were violated?

28 comments:

AuPairDebbie said...

It's sad that au pairs have better protections in this country.

Eva said...

Problem is that the people that talk about the bill are not the people that will benefit from it. I think the poorest domestic workers feel helpless, never heard of INA, APNA, this newsletter, domestic workers united. I think this is way overdue.

Fiona Littleton said...

Yep, my contract says we will both give 2 weeks notice. I gave an employer 31 days notice. Next week she found a new nanny and fired me on the spot. I live paycheck to paycheck and had no income for more than 3 weeks. I couldn't pay my rent and it was seriously scary.

I say it everywhere that happy employees make better nannies. These regulations would be a win win situation. Parents want happy employees to take good care of their homes and kids. You get what you pay for. If you don't pay well and treat nanny with dignity they won't be treating your kids the same.

If it worked as things are now we wouldn't need a law protecting us.

Fiona Littleton said...

I misspoke I should have said if parents don't treat nannies with dignity and respect how can you expect them to treat your home and kids with dignity and respect.

gr8 nanny said...

It is sad that we have to make laws to make people treat others with dignity, respect and a living wage.

lovebeingananny said...

I have not been mistreated too badly but I know plenty of nannies that have been. The worst is at my first job as a live in they would tell me to take off a few hours and come back and wasn't paid. The schedule changed, I never knew my hours or schedule. It was horrible. I would get calls on Sundays asking me to do stuff in the house while they vacationed and not paid. I have worked TONS of overtime without extra compensation. I work as a chef, plumber, landscaper and tutor on top of my childcare duties. I never get a dime more.

Anonymous said...

My first nanny position was with family with essentially absentee parents. Mom Boss and Dad Boss traveled alot. We agreed on a 50-hour work week with overtime for any extra hours. They promised me I would rarely work overtime. But that all changed. A parent would often call and leave a message on the machine telling me that they were going out of state on business and would be back in a few days?! I was emotionally exhausted. I gave her a month's notice and promised to help her find a replacement. They flipped out and kicked me out immediately. I had nothing -- no home, no car, no insurance, nothing. Luckily I had good friends who allowed me to stay until I found a place of my own. I cried for months because I missed the children.

Michael said...

Legislation with the very best of intentions often has consequences far beyond what the authors intend, and such is the case with CDWBR. Most of the key portions of the proposed CDWBR are already the law in CA, either in the CA code or under federal statute, including protections covering wage and hour regulations, overtime and the hiring of undocumented workers.

The problem is not a lack of legislation, but rather a lack of education for domestic employees, ignorance on the part of domestic employers, and arrogance on the part of law makers who are willing to build political mountains on the emotions of the population to further their own career.

No amount of legislation - at least not without any army of compliance and enforcement officers - is ever going to prevent a family from paying domestic worker less than a fair wage or treat the worker with respect and dignity. No law on the books today or tomorrow will ever prevent an illegal immigrant or undocumented worker from accepting a domestic position where they may be exploited.

In fact, the more onerous the legislation, the more difficult the law makes it for a family to be in compliance with the law, the more we will drive that family to hire illegally and pay under the table - just to avoid the radar of bad legislation.

At the same time, as more domestic employers begin doing everything possible to escape the absurdly broad brush of bad legislation, the professional and non-profit support organizations, like nanny agencies and nanny organizations will lose their ability to assist both families and domestic workers.

Bad legislation veiled under the moniker "Domestic Worker's Bill of Rights' is not a band-aid capable of healing an open sore within our society or within our private homes. It has consequences that will make matters far worse than they are now for the legal domestic workers and for decent, honest domestic employers, driving even more people underground and off the radar.

In a nutshell, be very careful what you wish for.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

All this bill, like the one in NY, will accomplish long term is driving nannies that currently work legally to accept under-the-table jobs or simply lowering the number of families who choose nanny care since they don't want do deal with the gov't regulations.

It may not happen in a year, or in 5 years, but it will happen. And then nannies will be worse off than they are now, with more of us UNprotected thanks to over-regulation.

What needs to happen is education. Tell nannies and parents that minimum wage laws apply. Make nannies understand what they give up working under-the-table. Help parents comprehend that just because they want a nanny doesn't mean they can afford one.

Anonymous said...

I don't think (like I read in an article) these dire predictions come true. I strongly feel like civil rights laws got a lot a grief too (and still do) but it doesn't make them wrong, unhelpful or unethical.

How do you educate women living in private homes? There are a few professional nanny organizations but no one other than myself knows about them. When I bring it up to nannies in town they aren't interested. I just don't know how you reach these women who found jobs online, living and working in a private home. I wish they read this but they don't have the time.

Anyway, here's my bad story. I never got paid any overtime. Not regular pay rate even, I was salaried and no extra income no matter the hours I worked.

But the worst part of my first nanny job was the father also sexually harrassed me. One day it was so bad he tried to kiss me I ran out of the house to my aupair friends house. We called my agency owner. She was awesome she drove back to the house with me and all my stuff was out on the back porch!!?? The agency owner is a God Send and she did let me sleep in her guest room. My parents drove out from Iowa to Long Island and picked me up and took me home.

That was a wonderful agency owner! If it happened to me I know it happens too others.

I don't think these laws would punish parents. I think it ensures better working conditions and happier employees and happier families in the long run. But, that's just how I feel.

I'm not leaving my name to protect that damn father. But everyone that knows me will know who I am without my leaving my name.

Tobago Nanny said...

T'm going to actually answer the question about if my worker rights were violated. Perhaps I was spoiled at my first nanny job with good pay, own room, nice people, and paid taxes. Because my 2nd nanny job was hell. The first job was so good I didn't know you have to negotiate for yourself against terrible people. I really never ever felt I had time off. When I'm supposed to be off on the weekends, at any time the kids would look for me to play with them. The parents would say, "oh I'm just running to the grocery store" then were gone 3 hours on my day off? So basically if I wanted real time off I had to leave their house for the weekend. when I traveled with the family on vacations I had to share a room with the kids. Each and every week I worked more hours than in work agreement but never given more money. I don't know if this equals workers rights being violated but it wasn't right. It's demeaning. I lost my self esteem.

This is why I think if we don't rethink how domestics are paid and regulated people won't want to work as nannies. All the great nannies leave the field when they are taken advantage of like this. I'd say 8 of 10 nanny friends that come to New York city from other parts of the country do their one year and never nanny again because it's a brutal job with extremely low pay and respect.

Anonymous said...

Can you tell me if my workers rights have been violated? I feel beat up so I'm guessing that's what's happening to me. I have worked up to 14 days at a time with BOTH parents out of town. That's 24/7 job and I'm an employee not a family member! I do all the cleaning though I was originally told they had a housekeeper. Apparently they fired her before I started, but now I do heavy cleaning without any help or more money. The kids have somehow gotten into my room and gone through my things. It was kind of cute when the little girl played with my makeup and jewelry but the teen boy read my emails and printed them out and the parents sided with the boy. I've found my books in his room that he hasn't asked to borrow! It took me a long time to bring up privacy with the parents and they didn't really listen to me, they don't think it's a big deal. There are times I work until 12:30 cleaning up for a party the parents had and I have to get up again at 5:00 and I’m exhausted. All these things have just added up to the point where I really can’t take it anymore.

Nanny in NY said...

i do get overtime pay, I do get paid sick days, I do get paid vacation days and I'll tell you why, I work in NY and it is already the law!

Parent Employer said...

Parent here! It seems nanny industry business owners have a lot more opposition and more to say about the bill then domestic workers. I think nannies are so busy I really don't think nannies even seem to care. I like to think I am paying a great salary and we bend over backwards to make our caregiver happy, as she does for us. She pitches in anyway she can, way above what is called for. She is a blessing and I try to show that with a very good salary, we help pay her health insurance, always pay time and half overtime (we round up 15 minutes) and we talk often! We encourage texts, emails, photos, venting!

Anonymous said...

I want this law but at the same time you can't force people to respect us. Hopefully karma will catch up with those who mistreat those that clean their homes, kids and are poorer than themselves.

Anonymous said...

I feel so strongly the law, powerful people are against the poor domestics of this country only thinking of their own pocketbooks of parents and lawyers.
0.0..0001.35

Michelle said...

I just saw Denis Collins is speaking for APNA and doesn't support the bill. I will admit I used to think nanny agencies were our only advocates, now I see I was a fool. I urge nannies to go online and use nanny web sites and craigslist to find jobs and boycott nanny agencies who don't advocate for our rights! We are an exploited worker.

Here's some of my response:

I have never felt so discouraged and abandoned by anyone and I am deeply saddened that the nanny industry doesn't support it's workers. Clearly I was a fool deluding myself into thinking that agency owners were the only advocates for nannies. In reality they are only advocates for their clients and they don't care about the in-home worker.

Domestic workers are the poorest workers in the nation! If the businesses that place us in jobs are not our advocates we have nothing and nobody else to support but Domestic Workers United and Domestic Workers Bills.

Parents aren't being punished and won't be punished by such bills and laws, it's us, the hard-working, invisible, neglected, poverty stricken domestics that are always being punished.

How things are currently for most domestics in California is not acceptable. Sure there are some high salaried, professional nannies in California, but there are more not even earning minimum wage. They are afraid to leave their jobs as they lose their housing if they leave. We desperately need this bill for live-in workers in private homes. These workers are evicted when they are fired! No other worker has this fear.

I wish I could say Denise Collins isn't speaking for all APNA members! I wish I could say her comments are due to fear and ignorance. But, I think it's much worse, a complete disconnect on what really goes on in the lives of most live-in domestic workers in California. The weathly parents won't be punished by such laws that would simply provide us basic rights.

"... a similar bill has already become law in the State of New York. The New York bill had the same dire predictions by opponents, yet they have not occurred. Despite the passing of the Domestic Workers Rights Bill in NY, the in-home employee market is still active and has not been negatively impacted."

I'm not a rocket scientist, just a nanny. But I know all to well that these protections are desperately needed. I am shocked and angered that nanny industry leaders don't even support us, but only the parents.

Michelle said...

Here's a link to APNA's article I was talking about:

http://www.nctimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/article_6b202a62-0ac3-56a4-b8ba-67494f82cfb8.html

polly psi said...

These agency owners are great fans of free market capitalism. Since capital-money- is the arbiter of value, it is obvious these people have low opinions of nannies and kids. They love the kids and love the nannies as long as they do not cost too much money.

Anonymous said...

Domestic workers are a completely exploited class. The truth is people think nannies are beneath them and treat them as such. Even those who place us in jobs feel the same. I'm not sure if legislation can change these "predjudiced" problems.

Anonymous said...

These steps are so instrumental in assisting Domestic Employees. The Bill is intended to improve your work enviornment and give you guidelines.

Steph 6 said...

I've been reading these comments and comments made online and I really can't understand how other domestics can be agaist this bill. It's amazing. It can only help both parents and domestic employees because we will both be HAPPY! Don't parents want the people raising and protecting their kids to be happy?!

When a domestic is paid so much less and lives in such poverty in comparisson to their employer they can only despise them.

be the best nanny newsletter always says nannies are the most important person a parent will ever hire!

Anonymous said...

All of this conversation is about nannies. I am curious to know how people think the provisions in this bill will apply to people with multiple employers, like house cleaners or gardeners, who are certainly included as domestic workers. At the moment they can regard themselves as independent or self-employed. Say a woman who does housecleaning has 10 employers. She will need to have 10 different contracts, receive 10 different payrecords, keep records on 10 different sets of vacation and sick leave accrual (as will the employers) which will no doubt accrue at different rates because she will clean houses at different intervals...and so on.

I can see that the provisions of this bill will work (or should work) for people who have one employer (like a nanny), but how about someone like that who is essentially self-employed with multiple clients? A self-employed person is not excluded from the provisions of the Bill.

I think it is a very good thing that live-in domestic workers will have more explicit rights. Most of the worst stories we hear about domestic worker abuse relate to them.

Michelle said...

I am so mad that INA and APNA assume that all their members are in opposition of this bill. I think at least both sides of the issue should be discussed and shared. Obviously many people oppose the bill but what about your members that are proponents? I don't appreciate these groups assuming for their members thatthey all agree with those who support this Republican stance.

Melissa in Bay Area said...

Yes I have had my workers' rights violated! My first nanny job the parents didn't pay me for all hours worked! Per diem or flex time is not appropriate and we will be protected for that in this bill.

If your boss says you aren't getting paid overnight (while the parents are on vacation) since you and the kids sleep at night it would be an offense to this bill.

If you are on call, or sleeping and only adult caring for the kids you must be paid. This has been an oversight for my first job and many nanny friends I know.

For this reason alone I support this bill!

Diane said...

The opposition sounds much too negative to me insisting we won't have jobs. Nanny employers are the wealthiest in the nation.

Marcia said...

I have learned from this blog (and others) that employers (parents) that already refuse to pay their domestic help (nannies) legally on-the-books or to pay them fair market rates (such as at least minimum wage) won't do so without laws.

Face it, if they haven't done it yet then we have to legislate so they will.

These fair basic workers rights will make happier employees which makes happier parents and the children too.

Arguments against further regulation being dangerous is just fear not based in any facts. Clearly we can't be treated any worse, workers rights laws can only help us.

Steph 6 said...

When some nannies make less than the norm it hurts all nannies because it brings our salaries down.

When some nannies are forced to do degrading labor it hurts all nannies when employers start thinking treating workers in a degrading way is acceptable.

If some nannies live in deplorable conditions it hurts all nannies when parents think it's ok to do so.

To help all nannies we must ensure all nannies are treated with respect.

I don't see why we shouldn't make more than a living wage.