Massachusetts Domestic Workers Rights under current state and Under the New Bill of Rights (after Governor Deval Patrick signs it)
- You have the right to get paid every week or every other week.
- You must be paid at least $8.00 an hour, and you must receive overtime pay (“time-and-a half”) for all hours worked over 40 hours in one week.
- All employers, including homeowners, must keep a record of the hours that their employees work. You should keep your own record of your hours, as well. A court will consider your records of your hours if you have not been paid properly.
- If you hurt yourself while working you have the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits (unless, as a domestic worker, you work less than 16 hours per week). Workers’ compensation will pay your medical bills and compensate you for lost work time.
- No one has the right to touch you sexually, make sexual jokes, or to make you feel uncomfortable with unwanted sexual advances in your workplace.
- If you live in the home, your employer must provide adequate, decent and sanitary lodging, including heat, potable water, and light. If you are earning the minimum wage, the employer can deduct a maximum of $35.00 a week from your wages! Even if you make more than the minimum wage, for lodging deductions to be made, you must agree and the housing arrangement must be for your benefit.
- Your employer can deduct meal costs from your wages only if you want and benefit from the meals. If you are earning the minimum wage, the employer must get your written permission, and can deduct a maximum of $1.50 for breakfast, $2.25 for lunch, and $2.25 for dinner. If you make more than the minimum wage, get a contract that explains the deductions and costs.
- House cleaners, if you are required to travel between homes for cleaning, you are still on the clock and your travel time counts as working time. Travel between work and home, however, is not paid time.
- An employer cannot fire you, refuse to hire you, or pay you less because of your race, sex, national origin, or because you’re pregnant.
- You have the right to unemployment benefits if you have earned $3,500 in the prior year and meet other requirements including having work authorization.
NEW LABOR RIGHTS DOMESTIC WORKERS WILL HAVE UNDER MA DOMESTIC WORKERS BILL OF RIGHTS
1) - For the first time as a domestic worker* you can file a discrimination claim with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) for discrimination on the basis of race, gender, gender identity, sexuality, ethnicity, pregnancy and for harassment for race, gender, sexuality, gender identity, and pregnancy discrimination. If you are a Personal Care Attendant you will have the right to file a sexual harassment claim at the MCAD.
2) – For the first time if you work less than 16 hours a week you will have protection against retaliation for filing a wage claims (this right currently exists for those who work 16 hours or more).
3) You will have the RIGHT to know all workplace rights under state and federal laws and your employer must give you a list of all of your workplace rights at the beginning of the job.
4) – You may request an evaluation after your first three months and an annual evaluation thereafter. If an evaluation is done, you can challenge what is put in your evaluation.
5) - If you work more than 16 hours a week you will have the right to a written agreement. The agreement must explain everything up front, including: what your job is, how much you will be paid, if food or housing will be provided, what rest days, vacation days, and sick leave you will get, what fees you may be charged (and these charges require your written agreement) and any other important issue.
6) – If you are a live-in domestic worker you will have the right to written notice and 30 days of housing on site or off site OR two weeks severance pay but only if you are terminated without cause (i.e., the employer has not made a good faith allegation that you have abused or neglected or caused other harm to any individual in the employer’s family or household).
7) –You will be able to go to the attorney general if you are being forced to work against you will. You will have the right to keep your documents (including your passport and visa) and must be told by employer you have that right.
8) You will have the right to privacy. This means the employer cannot interfere with or monitor your private communication and you will be protected against unreasonable, substantial or serious interference with your privacy even if you live in the home.
9) –You will have the right to a continuous 24 hours of rest each week and 48 hours a month if you are a full time domestic worker (meaning you work 40 hours or more per week). If you agree to work during your rest times, you are to be paid time-and-a-half.
10) You and your employer will have new resources available online, designed by the state that include sample written agreements, sample list of your rights. These resources will be available in several languages.