Senate Passes Bill to Protect Domestic Workers, with Senator Lewis’ Support

The Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a bill to establish a bill of rights for domestic workers, establishing clear labor standards and protections in the workplace, Senator Jason Lewis announced.

“Making sure that working men and women are treated with respect and dignity is a value we all share,” said Senator Jason Lewis.  “I’m proud to support these important protections for hard-working members of our community who don’t always have their voices heard.”

The bill defines domestic workers as individuals who do any of the following work: housekeeping, home management, nanny services, caretaking, laundering, cooking and providing home companion services. It also clarifies that domestic workers are eligible for government services and benefits, like unemployment insurance, workers compensation and minimum wage protections.

This bill establishes clear rules for sleeping, meal and rest periods, as well as requires that female domestic workers receive at like 8 weeks’ maternity leave if they are full-time employees.

To increase protections for domestic workers, the bill includes a privacy right to prevent employers from interfering with a worker’s personal communication and effects as well as housing protections in the event that a worker is terminated without cause. Domestic workers who work less than 16 hours per week are also protected from employer retaliation for making a wage complaint.

In addition, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination is given jurisdiction over domestic workers and personal care attendants for sexual or other harassment claims. The Attorney General’s office is tasked with enforcing this domestic workers’ bill of rights, providing resources on its website for employers along with working with the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development to develop a multilingual outreach program to inform domestic workers about their rights and responsibilities.