Nanny’s, Other Domestic Workers Protected Under New York Law

We’ve long followed <"">wage and payment issues involving workers inadequately compensated or unprotected. The New York Times reports that the so-called “Nanny Law,” The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, which was signed into law months ago, continues to go unnoticed.

The only law of its kind, The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights provides protection for a variety of employees—home workers and caregivers for the elderly, nannies, and other domestic employees—said the New York Times. If full-time, these employees are now eligible for temporary disability benefits as well as other protections for sexual harassment and discrimination in the work place, the New York Times explained. Further, employers must pay time-and-a-half for overtime, give no less than three annual vacations days, and keep to a legal workday, said the Times, which noted that a legal workday is eight hours; 40 hours is a legal week unless the worker is live-in, and then it is 44 hours.

Getting the word out has been challenging. So, too, has been ensuring workers are protected. With so many illegal aliens in these demographics, they may not seek to change their current arrangement. Domestic Workers United volunteers have been visiting locations in which domestic workers congregate, such as playgrounds, transportation stations, places of worship, and immigrant neighborhoods, to spread the word, said The New York Times. Bill sponsor State assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright said, “It comes down to marketing…. Maybe we should put a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights on each and every refrigerator door just to let people know,” quoted The New York Times.

Priscilla González, the group’s director says she’s seen an increase in calls about the bill from employers and employees. Also, said the New York Times, since November, when the statute went into effect, five complaints have been filed with the State Department of Labor. But, education remains challenging with a work force estimated at 120,000-240,000 in New York State, said The New York Times, citing Labor Department estimates. A Labor Department spokesman said enforcing the new law depends, in great part, on employee complaints. Four complaints remain pending and the resolved complaint concerned $2,551 in overtime pay owed to a New York City housekeeper, which the Labor Department forced the employer to pay in addition to $2,000 in penalties to the state, wrote The New York Times.

Effective April 12, New York employers will also face tougher penalties if they violate wage and hour laws. The state’s newly adopted New York Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA) imposes new notification requirements on employers. For instance, according to The National Law Review, the <"">New York WTPA raises the liquidated damages recoverable by employees who win a civil or administrative action for <"">unpaid overtime; employees who file successful unpaid overtime lawsuits may also be awarded for other penalties and fees and employers may be subject to criminal penalties, fines, and prison time in certain circumstances concerning, for example record keeping. Among other things, the WTPA also requires employers to provide notice to newly hired employees of the basis for the wage payment and if wage deductions—for example, meal or lodging allowances—will be claimed, said The National Law Review. also just reported that the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is requesting $241 million from the 2011 federal budget to put toward the regulation and enforcement of employment laws. The Department of Labor will also be updating its Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) recordkeeping requirements, said

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