NY Nanny Law: Gov Paterson Says He’ll "Be Pleased to Sign it into Law."

This post was written by CBS News Investigates intern Brian Mastroianni.

Deloris Wright worked for eight years as a nanny for a family in New York City. Earlier this year she was fired when she refused to work a nearly 60-hour week with no overtime.

“I was so humiliated,” said Wright. “When I spoke to him about overtime, he dismissively waved his hand in my face and said, ‘Don’t even go there.'”

On Thursday, New York lawmakers gave final legislative approval to a bill making the nation’s first domestic worker labor protection law to help domestic workers like Wright.

Gov. David Paterson said in a statement that he “will be pleased to sign it into law.”

The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights bill creates guidelines for employers of housekeepers, nannies and other workers in an industry that is unregulated and without clearly defined work benefits.

The bill includes standardized work weeks, one day off each week, three paid days off each year and overtime pay, said Bryan Clenahan, an Albany County legislator.

Groups in California and Colorado are now eyeing similar legislation.

“New York has a history of blazing the trail for labor rights,” said Clenahan. “We are reclaiming the heritage for New York worker protection.”

The New York bill is an attempt to “reverse 75 years of discrimination against this work force” said Priscilla Gonzalez, director of Domestic Workers United, a New York-based advocacy group.
Gonzalez said it is an industry where most of the work takes place behind the closed doors of employers’ personal homes, making it easy for the mostly immigrant and female workforce to be exploited.

Wright, a nanny for 22 years, said the legislation is a step in the right direction.

“When you are doing something for these people and then see a smile on their face, we are honored to do that work,” she said. “For many of us, there is no respect, no dignity in what we are doing.”

Comments

  1. Hooray!

  2. As long as they are paying into the system it's fine, but this right is supposed to be included to those that aren't. Our hospitals, schools, etc. are not supposed to deny services and yet the tax payers foot the bills? This is not helping our economy at all. Does immigration and the IRS now become the bad guys if they step in when it comes to enforcing this law. Gee then why should we have the IRS and immigration?They have not named the penalties for noncompliance, until they do I will hold off on cheering this.Something has to give. Why does representation happen without taxation? Who pays the wages of court workers etc. to enforce all this?California state workers are being told by Arnold that they have to be paid minimum wage, I don't see nanny reform like this being accepted there under those conditions.

  3. It is time to stop focusing on illegals. What illegal will file a complaint? Only legals citizens will file complaints and they should have the law that allows them to. We tell illegals to fill out census they don't. Illegals won't file claims because they don't want to be deported. Stop focusing on illegals and think how much this might help legal american citizens who work as domestics! This article gives just one example of what happens. I don't think illegals have tax payer rights. So focus on how this helps American citizens that are working as nannies and housekeepers in their own country.

  4. What stood out to me in this article- was- "There is no respect, no Dignity in what we are doing".I hope they will feel respected now with the new bill. But honestly, do they think that is going to change things where it matters most? Do they think the bill is magically going to get their employers to respect them?Instead of working a 60 hour work week- realize that most people can't do that long term. And suggest they find someone to work the extra hours or not accept a job like that. Those who complain about how horrible the nanny industry is- are the ones who are allowing themselves to be taken advantage of.I commend the Domestic Workers Union rallying for better pay/benefits.But just wondering what they are doing to educate the nannies in their group?

  5. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Some parents treat their nannies respectfully and compensate them fairly, don't work them to the bone. Sadly for those who don't have the common sense to pay the people raising their children well now a law will be in place to help them think twice.I think passing this bill will make a huge difference in the nanny world as a whole. It is a step in the right direction. All we have been able to do is stand up for ourselves individually. My agencies never helped me negotiate benefits, hours, salary, and it's hard for young caregivers to know how to negotiate benefits and fair contracts. I don't know any nanny who ever sued when laid off without notice, or sued for umemployment when paid under the table, or asked for time and a half after 40-hours….do you? I hope this law is passed throughout nation. Why shouldn't the people who care for our nation's kids have the same rights as other workers?And for parents offering unfair jobs they wouldn't ever want themselves – shame on you!

  6. For generations, our laws have failed to treat nannies, housekeepers and caregivers of the ill and elderly as workers deserving of basic employment rights. Domestic workers have been excluded from most federal labor protections and are even barred by law from organizing unions. For some, being mired in a deep recession is an excuse to ignore this state of affairs. To me, it's all the more reason to address it – and change the law to give domestic workers a little less chronic economic anxiety.Workers' accounts, as detailed in a first-time survey of more than 500 workers throughout the metropolitan area by Domestic Workers United – an organization consisting predominantly of Caribbean, Latina and African household workers – fall along a continuum. At one end, there are those who tell of being forced to work 12-hour days for less than the minimum wage (one worker reports caring for a severely disabled child for $2 an hour); of being denied breaks, sick time, vacation time or even a single day off; of employers who confiscate their passports, make them sleep on the floor and withhold pay; of employers who verbally abuse them by yelling, threatening or calling them insulting names. Some even report being beaten or sexually assaulted.Then there are employers who simply fail to recognize that their homes are workplaces, resulting in ill-defined or changing job descriptions and minimal benefits. Many workers report being suddenly asked to clean the house and do laundry when they were originally hired only for child care and being expected to work overtime with little notice and no extra pay. Or being asked to postpone urgent medical appointments because the time was inconvenient for the employer.Under the legislation, domestic workers would finally be entitled to the many things most other workers take for granted: notice of termination, severance pay, sick days and holidays and an annual cost-of-living wage increase. Will this make employing domestic workers more expensive? Yes, somewhat. But who can put a price tag on basic employment rights?Gayle Kirshenbaum

  7. Gayle Kirshenbaum, You are my hero!

  8. If American Nannies or those here on Green Cards and Visas do not know what rights have already existed, what is their excuse? Out of respect for the many African American nannies I have met in my time too, they know to put their foot down on what they will and won't do.I see job postings where parents will state hours, pay ranges, whether they are looking for a legal, etc. Doesn't this make nannies wonder about why other families don't do that and why?Our public libraries are open up for anyone who wants to know if something is okay or not can go on the Internet to find laws already on the books to protect them! We have nanny industry related websites all over the place that provide articles on how to handle contracts/agreements, negotiations, etc. Here in DC on a discussion board even parents along with the nannies provide links to numbers at the IRS to report those not in compliance.Is there an article in all the articles that discuss this where the victim of bad employers has had a common sounding European ancestry name that could indicate they are Caucasian? Is there a photograph in all the articles where the nanny in the picture is white?I've seen nannies anonymously confess on discussion boards they don't comply with tax laws too in part because they want to get all the social service programs that they won't qualify for if they had to report their salaries. I have seen employers frustrated because nannies will lie about saying they have a green card. One hopes that this law is for legal nannies, but my understanding is it's also for those not here officially. So what happens if they do blow the whistle on their employers, who faces the consequences for that.

  9. ALBANY – Problems involving taxes and a household employee surfaced during the vetting of Caroline Kennedy and derailed her candidacy for the Senate, a person close to Gov. David A. Paterson said on Thursday, in an account at odds with Ms. Kennedy's own description of her reasons for withdrawing.The account emerged 14 hours after Ms. Kennedy announced that she was taking her name out of contention for the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton, and as Mr. Paterson appeared to be leaning toward selecting Representative Kirsten E. Gillibrand, an upstate lawmaker in her second term in Congress. ————————Clearly, Governor Patterson missed a golden opportunity to do something on behalf of domestic workers in NY by not going public over this issue. It could have sent a message that no one in NY is above the law regarding paying nannies legally, and in not doing so can jeopardize any future career aspirations a parent may have.His being pleased now is hypocrisy.

  10. What's this about African American's knowing to put their foot down? One commenter is going off on tangents here!? There is absolutely nothing wrong with having labor laws.

  11. The other day it was implied that I seemed disregard nannies of color, so I am responding to all of again before I am accused of something else again. That I am able to do what I do because of white, no that has nothing to do with it. I know what to do what I do because I'm responsible for my own career and supporting myself. Thus, I pay attention to the details after finding them out in the first place.THIS IS SOMETHING EVERY NANNY SHOULD DO!!! If you can't learn to take responsibility for your own future, why are you passing yourself off as being great at taking care of other peoples children.I never said there was a problem with having labor laws either. So quit making such comments to the contrary about me. What I am addressing is people wanting to think there weren't any laws on the books until this legislation was passed which is simply a wrong assumption to make!!! But some don't want to see that. AND, like those laws this one won't matter unless people are going to be really held accountable. Or come forward. What makes this law so different and special now?Some nannies want to ignore what organizations like the INA, NANC, APN, etc have been trying to do on educating nannies regarding their rights. Why is that? No really, why is that?(People rant here it's not about immigrants and illegals. Above someone else states who makes up the majority of the Domestic Workers Rights Organization.)

  12. July 2nd / 12:53 wrote-"I don't know of any nannies who have ever asked for time and half over 40 hours – do you?"Yes, I know of someone- myself!According to the Fair Labor Standard Act by the US Dept. of Labor- Wage and Hour Divison.Live out nannies are in the NON-EXEMPT catagory. Therefore, Live OUT Nannies who in the eyes of the law are considered- Household Employees have been entitled by law to recieve time and half for any hours worked over 40 hours within a 7 day work period. (not sure when this law went into effect- but I've gotton over-time since 2003 – so at least 7 years.I believe this law covers all Live OUT nannies in all states.Sadly there is another set of laws regarding over-time hours for Live IN nannies in each state, so you need to check with each states Labor Dept.- as part of a Live-IN's nannies wages is her room and board.Andrea- Career Nanny, NJ

  13. From The Nanny Network LibraryThe Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the minimum standards for employee compensation, including minimum wage and overtime treatment rules. The US Department of Labor (2008) reports that wage and hour disputes, primarily over improper overtime compensation, have tripled since 1997.Nannies have always been covered by the FLSA – they are properly 'hourly' employees, subject to overtime payments for extra hours worked. Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder was sued by his former nanny for unpaid overtime – and lost! He was ordered to pay his nanny $44880 – earned in the course of 20 months of employment!The FLSA overtime rules apply the "time and one half" standard to household workers who do not live with their employer for hours worked over 40 in a week. Live in domestics must receive their regular hourly rate for every hour worked in a week. Live in domestics do not qualify under federal rules for the overtime differential.Household employers especially have a very difficult time defending these suits. The burden of proof lies with the employer, and employers typically maintain inadequate records at best. Poor time tracking, errors in overtime calculations, and improper deductions from payroll are common employer mistakes.How can families minimize their exposure to FLSA claims by current or former household staff? * Use FLSA compliant work agreement language. Make sure that the household worker's compensation is stated in $/hour terms. The HomeWork Solutions' Hourly Pay Rate Calculator can help with this. Example: Employee Weekly compensation of $800.00 gross, based on a gross hourly wage of $15.61 and a 47.5 hour work week. Employee guaranteed minimum weekly compensation of $800.00 gross. Weekly hours worked in excess of 40 per week are compensated at $23.41 gross per hour. * Maintain accurate, contemporaneous time tracking records. This is easier than it sounds. Many families with nannies successfully put the Nanny Log to work as a time keeping record. A Week at a Glance calendar, with the worker documenting their daily start and stop times also works well. At the end of every week, tally up the hours worked and have the worker sign the tally. * Pay overtime when due. All families occasionally require additional hours or days worked from their household staff. Paying the overtime when earned can save many headaches later down the road. * If a bonus is offered in the work agreement, make it discretionary. To qualify as discretionary, both the fact and amount of the bonus must be completely within the employer's discretion. Why? A guaranteed bonus – for example 2 weeks payroll at the end of a year's service – will change the employee's regular rate of pay. Hypothetically, the employee earning $500 ($12.50/hour)per week for a 40 hour work week would have a regular rate of pay of $500 * (52 weeks pay + 2 weeks guaranteed bonus) / 2080 hours = $12.98/hour. All overtime paid in the prior year legally would have to be recomputed at this new regular hourly rate.The FLSA sets the minimum standards for the overtime treatment of household workers. Some states, including New York, Maryland and Minnesota, apply stricter standards to the overtime calculations for live in household workers.http://nannynetwork.com/library/nannies.cfmhttp://nannynetwork.com/library/parents.cfm

  14. Labor laws are a good thing. Despite there being hundreds of illegals there are also hundreds of legally paid domestics. For legally paying domestics they will be protected. I think passing this law may encourage many illegally paid american citizens to reconsider and insist on being paid legally so that they will be able to get unemployment, disabiltiy, severance, and paid holiday and sick days in the future. That's good for the national economy (more tax payers) and happier domestic workers. That's a good thing for employers too. They prefer happy employees. It only makes sense that parents want happy employees caring for their kids and their homes.Once passed as law websites can promote the new law, agency staff will inform nanny candidates and parents of the new law, overall making a better working environment and relationship for everyone.

  15. Even if these LAWS will be difficult to regulate doesn't mean we shouldn't make these laws. We need them. Everything helps. I don't see how it can hurt. A lot of people have worked hard to pass these laws and we ought to be thankful for their hard work.Nanny Maria LopezMiami FL

  16. Minimum wage laws already apply to domestic workers nationally. It's overtime laws that domestic workers are often excluded from –those who live in their employers' homes.Who doesn't know a nanny that works overtime? Not too many get overtime pay though.

  17. California HAS and has had laws for all persons who work in homes as nannies, housekeepers, chefs, homecare attendants etc. This is WAGE ORDER 15… The law is applicable to Live In and Hourly employees. It covers hourly wages, overtime, work conditions, break time, food allowance.. time off, uniforms,etc etc. etc.

  18. Nannies are "at will" employees and can be terminated for nearly any reason, even with a law. Even if the employer dismisses the nanny for reasons that are illegal, such as race, the nanny would have a very hard time proving it in court. The employer can cut the pay, and/or make outrageous schedules and it is their right to do so. The situations that they complain about may be awful, if they are giving an accurate accounting of what happened, but MOST stories seem to be in the category of lousy bosses and deteriorating relationships.

  19. There is a whole underground economy when it comes to domestic workers. Since most aren't paid on the books if an illegal nanny makes $500 per week, her earning power is up to a third more. For this bill to work, the legislature should increase the child care tax credit for parents to $10,000 per year. Play, Nannies who have been here for 2 years should be given a path to citizenship!

  20. 1. If domestic workers receive special treatment under the law, then their employers deserve special tretment under the law. Accounting for someone's time in the home should not require a punch clock. Not everyone who hires a nanny has an entire staff of servants, most just have a nanny and don't know the law – DWU is not an organization friendly to the employer.2. yes, without this law, illegals can go to NYDOL and file a claim for lost wages. This law is stupid and will only increase the number of people hiring illegals because they want to escape not only the taxes associated with paying legally, but also escape this ridiculous law.3. where are my rights to vacation days? Why am I excluded from protection regarding vacation days?4. The DWU's wish list is really funny considering that we know lawyers who don't have health care. Why should domestic workers receive anything that any other worker doesn't? They aren't the only hourly employees who are asked to work long hours for little pay.

  21. Dear Anonymous Oct 11th:Why should we ALL deserve all these benefits?! Instead of seeing it as a problem that domestics might be getting more rights than you why can't you see it as, "If even domestics get vacation time then we should too!" And then make it happen. Every worker deserves these rights no matter their profession. The more professions that are assured labor rights the better for all workers.Labor rights have to start somewhere and it will help other workers too. Didn't we hear similar complaints re: slaves and even children before labor laws were developed?I hope the same rights will be afforded to you anonymous, (not hardships on others like you seem to desire).

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