3) Various Departments and Agencies within the Individual State and Local Governments
Despite the Department of Labor and Equal Opportunities Employment Commission regulations, currently no national-level Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights exists. In recent years, domestic worker rights advocates have pursued a grassroots campaign to gain further protections for household employees. Their efforts resulted in New York’s Governor signing the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights and, on November 29, 2010, NY became the first state to enact a law providing a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. The legislation is designed to provide basic labor protections to household workers (additional details on NY’s bill of rights are provided below). The second state to sign into law basic protections for domestic workers was Hawaii in July of 2013. California became the third state to enact similar legislation, and the law took effect in January of 2014.
Since many of our clients have a primary or secondary residence in New York State, I’ll provide NYS regulatory information as a state-level example. (Note that while additional local regulations apply within various parts of NY state, I will focus only on state-level laws.) As mentioned, in 2010, New York enacted a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. This law provides household workers with an eight-hour workday and overtime (at time-and-a-half) for working over 40 hours per week (or 44 hours if the employee lives on their employer’s property). Additionally, the law requires that household employees must be granted one twenty-four-hour-day off every seven days of work or be paid overtime if the employee agrees to work on the seventh day. The law also requires that after an employee has worked for one year with an employer, the worker must be granted three paid days off every year.
For more detailed information regarding New York State’s domestic employer requirements, please see “Facts for Employers” (from the NY Department of Labor).
Below I’ll provide a summary of key points from NY’s “Facts for Employers” document. The introductory section of the fact sheet entitled “What are your responsibilities under the New York labor law?” provides a brief overview of the requirements for NY domestic employers. To ensure an accurate account of the state’s requirements, much of the following information is taken verbatim (or with only slight changes) from the NY Department of Labor’s website or fact sheets:
“If you employ one or more domestic workers, you must:
- Pay your worker at least the minimum wage appropriate for your region. See the minimum wage schedule at www.labor.ny.gov/minimumwage. You may need or choose to pay more than the minimum wage. If you provide meals and/or lodging for your employee, you may receive a credit toward the minimum wage paid to the worker. Call 1-888-52-LABOR for more information.
- Pay overtime at 1-1/2 times your employee’s basic rate after 40 hours of work in a calendar week. If your employee lives in your home, you must pay overtime after 44 hours of work in a week.
- Provide one day (24 hours) of rest per week. If your employee agrees to work on that day, you must pay over-time. The law encourages you to (where possible) set your employee’s day of rest to coincide with their day of worship, if they have one.
- Give at least three paid days off after one year of work for you. Again, you may provide more than three paid days off.
- Offer a written notice about your policies on sick leave, vacation, personal leave, holidays and hours of work.
- Give your employee a written notice that lists the regular and overtime rates of pay and the regular payday. You can find a sample on the Department of Labor website.
- Not retaliate against a worker(s) for complaining to you or to the Labor Department about labor law violations. See more information about the Department of Labor Division of Labor Standards.
You can get additional information about the Department of Labor Division of Labor Standards.”
NY’s “Facts for Employers” also provides information about the state’s requirements for the following topics:
- Required insurance coverage
- New human rights protections
- Health insurance
- Other state and federal taxes
As mentioned, I highly recommend that household employers in New York State read “Facts for Employers,” which is available to gain a more complete understanding of the state’s provisions.
4) The IRS
Household employers are also legally required to meet federal and state tax obligations. Please see Domestic Employee Taxes – Federal Requirements for Household Employers, which provides information on the IRS’s tax requirements for household employers, and speak with your tax advisor.
5) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
The final regulator whose rules household employers are subject to is US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Any employee who works in your home must confirm that they can legally work for you by completing Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services advises the following:
“Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. All U.S. employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and noncitizens. Both employees and employers (or authorized representatives of the employer) must complete the form.”
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