Recent Laws on Domestic Work Recent campaigns for domestic workers in the United States have gained remarkable acknowledgement throughout the country as well as the world (England, p.367). These campaigns have most importantly lead to groundbreaking legislation like the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights (New York Bill of Rights) passed in November 2010. By strictly adhering to the Bill of Rights, New York State continues to provide legislated labor rights to domestic workers (England, p.
367). These campaigns not only influenced national labor laws but also the labor laws of the United Nations’ International Labor Organization (ILO). The ILO in 2013 adopted the Convention and Recommendation Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers, which gave domestic workers wider, universal protection (England, p.367).
Domestic workers are extremely vulnerable, especially, when they are undocumented. Often they are too afraid to speak out and are left with little alternative but to keep their burden to themselves for months and even years at a time. There has been tremendous progress made on behalf of domestic workers’ rights, however, more needs to be done in order to provide domestic workers with the rights to collectively bargaining, unionizing and paid leave. Domestic workers are undeniably pivotal in today’s global economy and it is in the best interest of humanity to protect those most vulnerable to the risks and exploitation in private home settings. Domestic workers tend to work in the private sphere as nannies, housekeepers and cleaners (Boris and Premilla, p.2).
Traditionally, these jobs were labeled as “women’s work” and in the past the isolation of workers in the private sphere has made it challenging for domestic workers to organize a labor movement (Boris and Premilla, p.2). In the United States, the majority of domestic workers are women of color, especially, “poor immigrant women of color” (Boris and Premilla, p.2).
According to Fretto, in the United States, domestic workers are not protected under federal laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which regulates pay and employment standards, the National Labor Relations ACT (NLRA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Care Act (OSHA), along with many other federal laws (Fretto, p.2). Interestingly, Fretto points out that domestic workers are not blatantly excluded by Title VII but are “de facto excluded because to fall within the acts’ reach the employer must employ upward of fifteen employees” (Fretto, p.
2). In the United States, however, most homes hire one domestic worker for each of various household tasks. The overall lack of federal protection makes domestic workers extremely vulnerable to poor working conditions and exploitation by their employers.The homes of upper and middle class Americans have historically been a workplace environment (Graunke, p.1). According to Kennedy, the “feminization of migration,” a commonly used term to describe the increased flow of migration of women to developing countries, has been feeding the demand for domestic workers in the U.
S. (Kennedy, p.3). Domestic workers travel hundreds of miles in search of a better life and many leave their children behind to take care of other people’s children. When they arrive in the U.S., however, domestic workers face many challenges and are often the subject of physical and psychological abuse (Graunke, p.
1). Domestics are extremely undervalued and threatened as second class citizens. Fretto states that domestic workers, “suffer from inadequate and non-payment of wages, long hours, heavy workloads, insufficient rest periods and days off, insufficient or no health care, poor living and working conditions, and breach of contract” (Fretto, p.2).