“Government Nannyism” for Nannies and Babysitters?

Opponents call it the ultimate government nannyism legislation because it gives nannies, babysitters and other caregivers overtime, meal breaks and paid vacation benefits.

Irrational and impractical, opponents say of the bill, AB 889 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a San Francisco Democrat.

Equity and fairness for domestic workers, counter Ammiano and the bill’s backers which include the California Labor Federation AFL-CIO and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.

They contend the wages of in-home workers have been below the poverty line and that they don’t receive  some of the labor law protections enjoyed by other employees.

The measure, which has passed the Assembly, is scheduled for a hearing July 6 in the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee.

Among the claims made by the bill is the following:

“The vast majority of domestic workers are women of color and immigrants and are particularly vulnerable to unlawful employment practices and abuses. “Domestic workers usually work alone, behind closed doors and out of the public eye, leaving them isolated, vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, and unable to advocate collectively for better working conditions.

“Domestic workers often labor under harsh conditions, work long hours for low wages without benefits or job security, and face termination without notice or

severance pay, leaving many suddenly without both a job and a home.

“In the worst cases, domestic workers are verbally and physically abused or sexually assaulted, forced to sleep in conditions unfit for human habitation, and stripped of their privacy and dignity.”

Analyses of the measure from the Assembly replicate these statements which appear to stem from Behind Closed Doors: Working Conditions of California’s Household Workers, a study by Mujeres Unidas y Activas, Day Labor Program, Women’s Collective of La Raza Centro Legal, Data Center.

Among the bill’s provisions:

–Overtime pay for babysitters, nannies and caregivers who work more than 40 hours a week or more than eight hours a day.

–A five-day per week maximum without a day off.

–Workers compensation coverage for nannies and babysitters.

–Meal and rest break requirements and;

—Allows nannies, caregivers and babysitters to sue if any of the rights granted by the bill are abrogated.

Opponents note that no other class of worker has such a legal right. And, they say, conferring such a right could mean that working parents hire a babysitter to go out for dinner one night and then be subject to thousands of dollars in legal fees and punitive damages if they don’t follow the rules set out in the bill.

Currently, babysitters are exempt from such workplace rules under Wage Order 15 by the Industrial Welfare Commission.

Ammiano’s bill makes domestic workers subject to the order’s requirements, which include 15-minute rest breaks within every four hours of work and a lunch break after the fifth hour.

Opponents suggest that a second nanny or babysitter would need to be hired to cover during those break periods.

“Forcing working families to choose between complying with unreasonable laws and providing the best care for their children and elderly parents is unconscionable,” say opponents, which in the Assembly included the California Association for Health Services at Home and the California Disability Services Association.





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