Massachusetts Bill of Rights

On July 2nd, 2014, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed the Massachusetts Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.  This bill is a landmark bill for MA and the country.  It is a comprehensive bill for improving conditions in the domestic work industry, providing clear guidelines for employers and workers.

Its provisions include:

  • A requirement for written contracts in the domestic worker industry
  • A requirement for notification of termination
  • Provisions for maternity leave

It was the leadership of domestic workers that made this bill possible.  Massachusetts domestic workers shared their stories and experiences, forged partnerships with employers, advocates and the legislature, and won a strong bill that brings us One Step Closer, One State Closer to full and real dignity for all domestic workers.

WHY A DOMESTIC WORKERS’ BILL OF RIGHTS

  • Historic exclusion from basic state and federal labor rights
  • Long hours, low pay, and no benefits
  • Vulnerability to abuse and mistreatment and isolation from the workforce
  • A workplace without protections against unsafe working conditions, discrimination, and sexual harassment

Domestic workers have been viewed as outside of the traditional workforce, largely because most domestic workers are women, often immigrants, doing the work historically done by housewives and servants. Due to the nature of domestic work, they are isolated from the rest of the workforce and subjected to round-the-clock physically demanding labor, with little or no separation between work and personal time. As a result of the lack of state and federal regulation, domestic workers are often taken advantage of by their employers and are in dire need of protection.

WHY THE DOMESTIC WORKERS’ BILL OF RIGHTS IS GOOD FOR MASSACHUSETTS

  • Good for Workers: Establishes labor standards that protect domestic workers’ basic workplace rights, including meal and rest breaks, clarity on what constitutes working time, sick time to care for themselves and their families, and freedom from discrimination and sexual harassment.
  • Good for Employers: Ensures that employers receive the highest quality of care for their families and homes by affording domestic workers dignity and respect. Reduces turnover by providing greater stability for workers, and improves the health and safety of employers and their families by protecting domestic workers’ health.
  • Good for the Commonwealth: Provides domestic workers with safe and dignified work environments and employers with clear guidelines on their responsibilities that will bring domestic workers out of the shadows. Protecting domestic workers also protects the safety of our communities, ensures the health and well-being of the families of domestic workers, and strengthens the state economy by freeing up more individuals to participate in the paid workforce.

The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights amends Massachusetts state labor law to guarantee basic work standards and protections: 24 hours off per 7-day calendar week; meal and rest breaks; limited vacation and sick days; parental leave; protection from discrimination, sexual harassment, illegal charges for food and lodging, and eviction without notice; notice of termination; and a means of enforcing these standards. Domestic employers under the bill do not include state regulated staffing agencies or the employers of those who work as casual babysitters. Learn more about new rights granted by the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights »

The MA Coalition for Domestic Workers is represented by Monica Halas at Greater Boston Legal Services.