The Massachusetts House has just approved legislation that establishes a “bill of rights” for domestic workers. Under the bill, domestic workers are defined as individuals who provide services in the home, such as laundering, housekeeping, caregiving, home companion services, cooking, and childcare. (Babysitting is not included). The bill was approved by the state’s senate last month. Now, Governor Deval Patrick must sign the bill into law.
There are about 67,000 domestic workers in Massachusetts. Many of them are women, which can make them easy targets of sexual harassment and other abuses. Many domestic employees have complained that they lack the legal protections provided to other workers in the state.
Under the new legislation, domestic workers employed in a household for over 16 hours a week would have to receive written contracts. They would be entitled to a description of their duties, their pay rate (including overtime and compensation for specialized skills and other responsibilities), information about yearly raises, health insurance, and reimbursement for additional expenses.
The bill mandates that private households provide domestic workers with days off, designated breaks for meals and rest periods, unpaid maternity leave, sick time, vacation days, personal days, and severance. Also, domestic workers would have to be given two weeks notice or severance pay before they are let go. If they are evicted from a living quarters they must be given at least 30 days written notice and employers would have to abide by the uniform summary process rules.
Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation
Currently domestic workers who are employed over 16 hours a week are entitled to Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits. This means that regardless of who or what caused their injury that occurred on the job, they are entitled to work injury benefits. Slip and fall accidents, burn injuries from cooking, poison from toxic conditions in the home, illness contracted from caring for a sick person, and back injuries from lifting or moving heavy objects are a few of the injuries and ailments that can result in a domestic work situation.
Unfortunately, not all employers or their insurers are willing to pay an injured employee the workers’ compensation benefits that he/she is owed. At Altman & Altman, LLP, we know that this can be very stressful, especially if you are now unable to work, have medical bills to pay, and must still support your family.
Our Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers are here to make sure our clients get all of their benefits and that there are no delays in payments. We also pursue death injury benefits for the families of workers that were killed on the job. Contact our Boston work injury law firm today to request your free case consultation.
Bill S.882, An Act establishing the domestic workers bill of rights, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Domestic Worker Bill Approved by Massachusetts Legislature, The Insurance Journal, June 20, 2014
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