The United States suffers from widespread and persistent devaluation of care work. Our country treats the work of caring for children, the elderly, and those who are sick or disabled as secondary to other forms of labor. As a result, the work of caregiving is often poorly compensated or completely unpaid and, because it is treated as a private concern, the labor it involves becomes invisible. The labor of stay-at-home parents is taken for granted and domestic workers who provide paid care usually perform their labor without adequate legal protections.
Existing laws should be expanded to cover domestic workers, who often work in an unregulated underground economy. The nearly 200,000 domestic workers in New York City provide a vital service to their employers, and enable the city to function as a center of global business and activity. These workers deserve the same quality of legal protections and workplace standards as workers whose labor happens outside the home. These workers have been excluded from labor laws for decades. Valuing caregiving means valuing the work of those who provide care to our families in our homes.
On November 29, 2010, New York became the first state in the nation to enact a Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights. The law guarantees basic labor protections for nannies, housekeepers and caregivers for the elderly. Congratulations to Domestic Workers United and all of their allies for this momentous achievement!
Click here for detailed information from the New York State Department of Labor about the new law.
In 2012, the California Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, AB #889, passed the California State Senate and State Assembly. Unfortunately, Governor Brown vetoed the bill. This legislation, which was supported by the New York Times' editorial board, would have provided basic labor protections to more than 200,000 domestic workers in California.
Click here to learn more about the campaign to pass a Domestic Worker Bill of Rights in California.
Direct care workers provide support and services to millions of older Americans and individuals with disabilities. Their work is essential to the health and independence of those in need of care. However, current labor laws exclude direct care workers from federal minimum wage and overtime protections. The Department of Labor has proposed a rule to change this loophole. Please click below to read two letters in support of changing the policy and our comment submitted to the Department of Labor supporting the proposed rule.
Parents who stay home to care for their children, and workers who stay home to care for sick parents and partners, earn zero Social Security credits for their efforts. The failure of the Social Security system to recognize and value the work of at-home caregivers can leave them in financial peril if they lose their other sources of monetary support. Congress has considered legislation to remedy this inequality but has not yet passed such a law.
A Better Balance is part of the leadership team for the Caring Across Generations campaign. CAG