ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. David Paterson on Tuesday signed into law the first extensive domestic workers’ rights measure in the nation, which he said will correct historic injustices.

“I am grateful to the sponsors for their extraordinary efforts to enact this landmark bill, and most of all to those domestic workers who dreamed, planned, organized and then fought for many years, until they were able to see an injustice undone,” Paterson said.

The measure will guarantee overtime pay for domestic workers, as well as time off and protections against sexual harassment.

An estimated 200,000 people are domestic workers in New York City. An advocacy group says there are frequent reports of verbal or physical abuse by employers, and two-thirds of the workers said they never received overtime pay. There are an additional 60,000 to 70,000 domestic workers statewide, many of whom are female immigrants.

“The day is finally here,” said Barbara Young, a Manhattan nanny speaking on behalf of Domestic Workers United, an organization of nannies, housekeepers and care providers for the elderly. “When I think about all the domestic workers who worked without recognition for so many years, I am so proud of what we accomplished. Caring for children means so much to me and to the future. Those of us who do this work deserve dignity and respect.”

The law requires overtime pay for nannies, housekeepers and companions to the sick and elderly after they work 40 hours in a week, or 44 hours for those who live in their employers’ homes. The domestic workers will get at least 24 consecutive hours off each week and, after they are on the job a year, three paid days off annually. The bill’s sponsors said it subjects employers to state law for complaints of unwelcome sexual advances and also applies New York’s minimum-wage provisions.

The federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, the same as the state’s, already applies. The law will take effect 90 days after signing, providing time to notify employers.

Overtime would be paid at 1.5 times a worker’s normal wage rate. The bill passed the Assembly 89-38 and the Senate 35-26 on Thursday.

The law calls for the state Labor Department to study working conditions and the feasibility of collective bargaining and report back by Nov. 1.

The legislation excludes casual workers like occasional house cleaners and baby sitters, relatives and those working for outside agencies or providing services through government programs.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (4)
  1. Robert says:

    This is why we are keeping jobs from Americans. Most of these people are immigrants, legal or illegal, and are paid so little that no american would take such a low paying job. If the supply of immigrant workers were cut of these people would be forced to pay someone 15 to 25 dollars an hour because there would be an actual labor shortage. However as long as we import workers to flood the market so there are more workers than jobs people and companies will get away with paying low wages. Could you live on 7.50 an hour? It not that Americans won’t take these jobs, they won’t take them at such low wages. Stop immigration and we will cut unemployment because true supply and demand will drive wages up. By importing workers we destroy true supply and demand which lowers wages. If we had true supply and demand these jobs would pay at least double if not triple the current level and Americans would gladly take them. No American will take a job that keeps them poor while working 40 plus hours a week. Again could you live on 7.50 an hour or 300 a week, or 15, 600 a year? But double it to 32, 300 a tear using real supply and demand Americans would gladly do it.

  2. Linda says:

    60,000 – 70,000 workers ; no wonder we have high unemployment.

  3. theboss says:

    It’s about time. Those who can’t afford a domestic worker (overtime pay) shouldn’t have one. And people treating their subordinates unfairly (abuse) should be lynched.

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