The Oregon Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights corrects an historic wrong by including domestic workers in the basic labor laws afforded most other workers.
Domestic workers were intentionally excluded from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as a concession to Southern politicians in the early 1900’s. This exclusion was mirrored on the state level, creating an unregulated and underground economy that left the state’s approximate 10,000 domestic workers subject to widespread mistreatment and abuse.
Why the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights is Good for
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.
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.
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.
In the summer of 2014, a Task Force was created to study issues involving domestic workers in the state and make recommendations for legislative initiatives to provide outreach and education services to domestic workers and employers of domestic workers in the state.
Members of the Task Force included the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women; CT Department of Labor; Attorney General’s office; state legislative leaders; and domestic worker and domestic employer representatives.
In Connecticut, there are approximately 40,000 domestic workers who serve as housekeepers, nannies, and caregivers in private homes. Domestic workers play a critical role in Connecticut’s economy, working to ensure the health and prosperity of Connecticut families and freeing others to participate in the workforce. Despite the value of their work caring for children, elders and homes, domestic workers have historically been excluded from the protections under state law extended to workers in other industries.
This has led to a workforce, predominantly composed of women supporting their own families, that is isolated and vulnerable.
Domestic workers are primarily immigrant women who work in private households in order to provide for their own families as the primary income earner. The role of domestic workers is essential to Connecticut as it enables others to participate in the workforce. Without these domestic workers many would be forced to forgo their own jobs to address their household needs, the result being that the well-being of many Connecticut families and the economy as a whole would suffer.
However, despite the importance of their work, domestic workers have historically received wages well below the poverty line and continue to be excluded from some of the most fundamental labor protections other workers in Connecticut enjoy.
Please visit the Brazilian Immigrant Center's website.