A Guide for Domestic Workers and Employers
In November 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor released sample contracts that domestic workers and their employers can use to create clear expectations for a successful employment relationship. The National Domestic Workers Alliance applauds the Department of Labor’s efforts!
Get Sample Contracts for Domestic Workers
Domestic work is essential work and fair employment agreements are key to ensuring nannies, housecleaners, and home care workers get the recognition and respect they deserve. However, many domestic workers do not have written contracts, resulting in a lack of clarity on job descriptions, hours, wages, and more. Having a written agreement benefits everyone! The Department of Labor’s templates and this guide will help you get started.
Written agreements benefit both domestic workers and their employers by establishing a formal understanding between the parties — fostering a more respectful, professional employment relationship. Contracts can bring clarity to:
A written contract for nannies, housecleaners and home care workers provides stability and can help ensure excellent care, meeting both employer and worker needs.
Whether you are a domestic worker or an employer, these sample email and SMS messages can help you raise the topic of a written agreement.
It can be hard to know how to approach your employer and request a written agreement! All nannies, home care workers and house cleaners are invited to join the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) for workshops over Zoom that can help you get ready to have the conversation.
Sign up here and we’ll invite you to our upcoming workshops.
In the states of Massachusetts, Nevada and Connecticut, as well as in the cities of Philadelphia, Washington DC and Chicago, domestic workers and employers are required to have a written agreement under the terms of local and state Domestic Workers Bills of Rights. In other parts of the country, domestic workers and employers are advocating to expand this mandate. Whether or not you live in a location where the agreement is mandated, having one is a good idea!
Not having a contract can cause problems for both employers and workers. Miscommunications can arise about responsibilities, schedules, and other expectations. With a written agreement, domestic work jobs can be safer, fairer, and a better experience for everyone.
While a verbal contract may be legally binding in some situations, it is generally not advisable to rely solely on verbal agreements, especially in the context of domestic employment.
No! While having a contract in place from the beginning of employment is generally preferable, it’s not uncommon for employment agreements to be finalized and signed after the start date. It’s never too late.
Yes! It is common to revisit a contract annually. The annual contract review can be a good time for domestic workers and employers to evaluate the working relationship together and talk about what’s working and what can be improved. This can be a good time to ask for a raise or request improvements to working conditions.
Not all agreements have fixed end dates. A good, written agreement lays out expectations of how either the worker or the employer can end the employment relationship fairly and with sufficient notice.
Regardless of contracts, employers are required to comply with local, state and federal labor laws. Employers cannot use a contract to violate the law and your rights under the law. Even if you have signed a contract for less than what you are entitled to under the local, state and federal laws, you have a right to enforce what you are entitled to under the law.
When things are going well is actually a perfect time to put agreements into writing. The written agreement can be a way to document the terms of your successful working relationship, and also establish clarity on what you will do if a disagreement ever arises.
Language barriers between domestic workers and employers can pose a challenge when discussing a written agreement, but they are not insurmountable. Consider using an online translator, seeking assistance from bilingual friends or family members, using simple language, or incorporating visual aids. Never rush to sign something that you don’t understand!
See the Department of Labor website for recommendations on good practices to follow when drafting a domestic work agreement.
The rights of domestic workers vary from state to state. We recommend that you consult a local domestic worker organization to learn about local laws and regulations.
Send us your questions and we will add to this list of FAQs! You can submit questions using this form.
Employers of nannies, home care workers and housecleaners can join Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network. Hand in Hand supports employers of nannies, housecleaners, home care workers, and attendants, along with their families and allies, helping them recognize that homes are workplaces and ensuring that domestic work jobs are good jobs. The organization also organizes individuals to advocate for dignity and fairness for domestic workers and strives to secure public investment in care for families, people with disabilities, and older adults.
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