Thoughts on Worker Rights Bills and Nannies
The first step to increasing the prestige of the nanny profession is to raise the bar of the most basic needs and expectations.
By Stephanie Felzenberg, Editor of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter
Recently, Harold Camping, prophesied that the world would end on May 21, 2011. In Saudi Arabia, some religious leaders claim that allowing women to drive will lead to the moral deterioration of their society. Not too long ago in America there were dire predictions of anarchy when blacks were allowed to vote, tragedy when interracial marriages were allowed, and Armageddon when school integration was ordered.
Today, some domestic placement agencies, two professional nanny organizations, and attorneys who represent those who hire nannies, housekeepers, and personal chefs are predicting doom and gloom for society because of the passage of laws protecting the rights of in-home workers. The doomsayers strike us as too strident combined with strong hints of elitism.
It feels like some opponents of the CA Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (CDWBR) view nannies in a condescending way. To work as a nanny or housekeeper in our current society inevitably labels us as of lesser value to those in other occupations. Regardless of education and experience, most nannies are considered "just babysitters."
But not everyone shares these assessments. On June 16, 2011, the International Labor Organization (ILO) convened a meeting of international government representatives, employers, and unions to debate the merits of a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights similar to those passed in NY and CA. The proposal passed 396 to 16 with 63 abstentions. While this approval does not have the force of law, it does provide an acknowledgement of problems and a guide to solutions.
The IRS claims that only 76% of taxes owed are paid. Since tax evasion is the great national sport (doesn't it seem like everyone wants to pay less taxes), how can we expect compliance with these worker rights laws, even if they are enacted? After all, unless there is societal recognition and acceptance of the need and importance of nannies, no amount of legislature will prove useful to the profession.
If nannies are satisfied to be glorified babysitters, they can only expect to be compensated at a lower level than her better educated and more ambitious caregiver.
All workers deserve all the rights listed in the CDWBR, but the lesser trained employee may find the employer resistant to offer all the benefits needed.
A value-added nanny is one who is trained in child development, behavioral psychology, tutoring, child safety, CPR and First Aid, nutrition, etiquette, and hygiene of their charges. This well-educated nanny is more valuable to the child, the parents, and to herself. She has made the commitment to herself and to her profession to make being a nanny a career, not just a job.
To that end, I urge that we work to create licensing and the certification of nannies. The required education could be obtained from a variety of sources. Non-profit associations, public colleges, or private schools can be widely available sources of education, training, certification, or licensure.
I also strongly support the CDWBR and other bills that support the rights of nannies. The first step to increasing the prestige of the nanny profession is to raise the bar of the most basic needs and expectations.
In our society, the value of a nanny can be measured by a compensation package that provides a living wage and necessary benefits. The goal for the parent should be to get the best nanny possible. The goal of the nanny is not only to be the best she can be but to be the best nanny that can be.
Do you support the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights?