Massachusetts Domestic Workers Win Rights and Protections Gov. Signs Landmark Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

Contact:
Lydia Edwards, 617-981-4790 MCDW
Monica Halas, 617-603-1666 Greater Boston Legal Services

(Boston, MA) Governor Deval Patrick celebrated the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights on Wednesday, July 2, in a signing ceremony with domestic workers and their allies. After several years of garnering support and bringing the plight of domestic workers to the Commonwealth, the bill will become law. The bill goes into effect in 3 months with wage provisions by April 2015.

The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights amends Massachusetts state law to guarantee basic labor protections such as clarity on what constitutes working time, freedom from sexual harassment, and protection from the abuses of trafficking and from retaliation for asserting wage violations. This is the first bill of its kind in the state of Massachusetts, and the first in the country to require written contracts, notice for live-in workers and maternity leave.

“Over the past few years, we as workers, our allies and employers have worked hard to pass the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights. Our work has paid off. This law gives guidance and assurance that the jobs we perform every day are protected and recognized by The Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Sonia Soares, Brazilian Immigrant Center.

The bill is now the fourth in the country that guarantees domestic worker protections; New York, Hawaii, and California have passed similar bills in the last four years. Connecticut passed the Domestic Taskforce Bill earlier this month, which will launch a taskforce to study the industry in the state and offer recommendations for improvement.

There are approximately 60,000 domestic workers (which include nannies, housekeepers, and housekeepers) who are overwhelmingly women. Historically viewed as outside of the traditional workforce, domestic workers are often isolated, and subjected to round-the-clock physically demanding labor, with little to no separation between work and personal time. The bill ensures that employers will receive the highest quality of care for their families by affording domestic workers dignity and respect.

The Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers helped to highlight the plight of domestic workers and provide balanced solutions through the bill. The coalition will partner with the Attorney General’s office, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. “We looking forward to working together to implement the law so that every domestic worker and domestic employer in the Commonwealth knows the new rights and guidelines that will assure quality care and dignity for all,” said Lydia Edwards, coordinator of the Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers.

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The Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers includes: Brazilian Immigrant Center; Matahari: Eye of the Day; Brazilian Women’s Group/Vida Verde; Dominican Development Center; and Women’s Institute for Leadership Development. The campaign has been represented by Greater Boston Legal Services. MCDW is a member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance