What is the Philadelphia Domestic Workers Bill of Rights?

The Philadelphia Domestic Workers Bill of Rights went into effect on May 1st, 2020 and gives nannies, house cleaners, and caregivers working in Philadelphia critical workplace protections. 

Who is protected by the bill?

  • Domestic workers (nannies, house cleaners, and home care workers) who work in Philadelphia
  • People who do domestic work on a regular basis
  • Documented and undocumented domestic workers – labor rights are for everyone, regardless of your immigration status

What are my rights?

Right to a Written Contract

This is an agreement between you, whoever hires you and/or the household you work for. The contract must include details like:

  • Your pay
  • Your hours
  • The kind of work you will be doing
  • Your health and safety at work
  • What happens if working conditions change

Your contract is a legal document that must be respected. If you work at least 5 hrs/ month with 1 household, you have the right to a written contract. Your contract is a legal document that must be respected. If you work at least 5 hrs/ month with 1 household, you have the right to a written contract.

You can find domestic worker contract templates and more information about creating a contract here.

Right to a Rest Break

After working 4 hours straight, you have the right to take a 10 minute UNINTERRUPTED break, which is included in your regular pay time. 

Uninterrupted means you can leave the house for 10 entire minutes by yourself.

If you cannot take 10 minutes off, you must be paid extra. For instance, if you work 5 hours without a break, you will be paid for 5 hours and 10 minutes. 

The Right to a Meal Break

After working 5 hours straight, you have the right to take a 30 minute UNINTERRUPTED break for a meal

This break is not paid, but if your 30 minute meal break is interrupted, it must be paid.

The Right to Advance Notice of Termination

You must be given 2 weeks notice before you are terminated from your job.

If you are asked to leave immediately , you must receive 2 weeks pay instead.

If you live with your employer, they must give you 4 weeks notice before terminating your employment.

Protection from Discrimination

Before the Bill of Rights, domestic workers were not protected from unlawful discrimination in the workplace and could be refused a job or fired because for belonging to a protected group. It is now illegal to discriminate against a domestic worker.

Discrimination is when your employer takes a negative action against your employment terms (e.g, withholds wages, reduces hours, fires you)  because of your race, ethnicity, color, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition), sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, marital status, source of income, familial status, genetic information and status as a victim of domestic or sexual violence.

Privacy Protection

It is illegal for employers to film you or have cameras in private areas like a bedroom or bathroom.

Many employers like to have cameras in common areas, and that is their right. But you have rights too. 

You have the right to keep possession of your personal identity documents.

Protection from Retaliation

It is illegal for employers to  retaliate against you when you choose to exercise your rights or file a complaint against them.

Some examples of retaliation are: firing you, making threats around your perceived immigration status, reducing your work hours, threatening to call the police, or not paying you.

Protections for Live-In Workers

If you live where you work, you have all of the rights listed on this page. You also have the right to:

  • 4 weeks of advance notice before termination
  • A day off after working 6 days straight

How do I protect my rights?

  • Demand all of the rights available to you, it is the law
  • Keep track of the hours you work and how much you expect to be paid
  • Make sure most communication between you and your employer is in writing and keep it handy (e.g. document requests over email/text and save them)!
  • Keep this brochure with you to remind you of your rights
  • Share these rights with other domestic workers. The more other people protect their rights, the more it protects all domestic workers. 
  • When your rights are violated, tell someone you trust, contact NDWA, and take legal action by filing a complaint!

Together, we can ensure that all domestic workers are treated with the respect you deserve!

Keep an eye out if…

  • Your employer tells you they have to keep your identity documents
  • Your employer does not let you leave the house at your own discretion 
  • Your employer threatens or intimidates you so that you cannot leave work

These could be signs of labor abuse. Please contact our office if you are concerned.

Are your rights are being disrespected?

Contact the Philadelphia Domestic Workers Alliance Pennsylvania Chapter office. Fill out this form, call or text (267) 768-4002 or email [email protected]. The work you do is valuable and you deserve dignity and respect!