The Seattle Domestic Workers Ordinance (more commonly “Domestic Workers Bill of Rights”) took effect on July 1, 2019. This legislation was a huge win for the thousands of nannies, caregivers, house cleaners, and landscapers who have long operated in the shadows of our federal, state, and local labor standards. We’re proud of all the work our sibling org, Working Washington, did in collaboration with the Seattle Domestic Workers Alliance to win this landmark legislation. Thanks to this historic ordinance, nannies, house cleaners, home health care workers and other domestic workers get the basic rights and benefits every worker needs — including power on the job.
Ends the exclusion of these workers from basic labor standards:
- Covers all part-time, full-time, independent contractors, and live-in domestic workers in the city — regardless of whether they are employed by an agency or a family.
- Applies Seattle’s minimum wage to domestic workers, regardless of whether they are classified as employees or contractors.
- Ensures all domestic workers receive meal and rest breaks, with provisions for those circumstances when breaks may not be feasible.
Provides important new rights and protections:
- Ensures live-in workers get at least one day off out of every seven days worked.
- Forbids employers from keeping a worker’s original documents, like passports or driver’s licenses.
- Strengthens anti-retaliation protections for domestic workers who stand up for their rights.
Establishes a new model of worker power:
- Establishes a Domestic Workers Standards Board which includes workers, employers, and community representatives and has the power to effectively set industry-wide standards.
- Mandates that the standards board will address wage standards, portable benefits, hiring agreements, training, paid time off, outreach & enforcement, and other issues as they arise.
- Gives the board real power by requiring City Council to act on the board’s recommendations within 120 days.
When the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1938 it provided workers with the right to a minimum wage and 40-hour workweek, as well as overtime pay for extra hours over 40. But not all workers. Domestic workers, home health care workers, and farm workers were all excluded because of racism – that is, in order to get the support of Southern Democrats in Congress, the bill excluded these jobs done almost entirely by black and Latinx/Hispanic workers. Farm workers and home health care workers eventually won minimum wage but not overtime pay. Seattle’s Domestic Workers Bill of rights was our local effort to extend new (old) protections to these workers.
If you are a domestic worker or employ domestic workers, you can learn more about the new law by contacting our domestic worker organizer, Doris Garcia (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by visiting the Seattle Office of Labor Standards.