N.Y. first in nation to extend benefits to domestic workers

Domestic workers who work less than 40 hours a week obtained basic employment rights, including workers’ compensation and disability insurance coverage. The law took effect today (Nov. 29).

David Paterson

On Aug. 31, Gov. David Paterson signed the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, which among other things forces employers to provide workers’ compensation and disability coverage to their domestic workers. It marks the first time a state has approved the benefits for domestic workers.

Those workers are defined generally as someone working in the home to care for a child, serving as a companion for a sick or elderly person, housekeeping or for any other domestic service purpose. The legislation does not apply to casual workers, one engaged in providing companionship services and employed by an employer or agency other than the family or household using the services, or who is a relative through blood, marriage or adoption of the employer.

The new law extends the state’s labor law to domestic workers, meaning that the eight-hour workday and $7.25 minimum wage apply. It also provides for one day of rest for each calendar work and three paid days off per year after one year of service to the same employer.