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Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights

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Pursuant to Rules 7.1(e)(3) and (f) of the NY Rules of Professional Conduct, you are hereby advised that "prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome" and the contents of this blog constitute "Attorney Advertising."

Legal Advice

This publication is intended as an information source for clients, prospective clients, and colleagues. The content should not be considered legal advice and readers should not act upon information in this publication without individualized professional counsel.

© Peter J. Weishaar and Rochester Law Review, 2013 – 2015.

All Rights Reserved.

It’s Labor Day, and soon our kids will be off to school.  For our family, it also means that Mommy–who is a school psychologist in a local school district–is also back to school.

When our kids were just a little younger, this was also a very stressful time of year because we had to make arrangements to care for our children while we both worked.  Fortunately, my wife was able to enjoy the benefits of having a job with parenting leave for most of the time before our children were in school.  But last year we decided to hire a nanny to watch our children when they were not in pre-school.

It’s hard enough to sift through countless resumes, interview candidates, and conduct all the necessary background checks and make sure that the person hired is the right fit for your children.  But on top of that, you have to become an employer!  That means at a minimum that you have to:

  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS;
  • Verify employment eligibility by completing a federal form I-9 for your employee;
  • Register with the New York State Department of Labor; and
  • Report to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.

We also hired a payroll service, obtained Workers’ Compensation insurance and New York State Disability insurance.  Finally, I also drafted a contract between our family and our nanny to outline expectations and compensation, among other things.  I am amazed how thick all my files are for this one employee who only worked for us for a year.

During the process of preparing our paperwork and reviewing the laws and regulations applicable to domestic workers (which include nannies), I was actually surprised to learn that New York had recently enacted a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights.  Signed into law by Governor David Paterson on August 31, 2010, it went into effect on November 29, 2010.  Thus, it is still relatively new.

If you hire a domestic worker or nanny, here are the key points of the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights that you should be aware of:

  • You must pay at least minimum wage;
  • You must pay overtime at 1 1/2 times the basic rate of pay for all time worked over 40 hours a week (or 44 hours if worker lives in the employer’s home);
  • You must provide one day (24 hours) of rest every week (or if the employee agrees to work that day, overtime pay for the entire day’s work);
  • You must provide at least three paid days off after one year of working for you;
  • You must provide a written notice about your policies on sick leave, vacation, personal leave, holidays and hours of work;
  • You must provide written notice about rates of pay and pay day that are now also required by the Wage Theft Prevention Act; and
  • You must not retaliate against your employee for complaining to you or the New York State Department of Labor.

The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights also amended the New York Human Rights Law, to extend the protections from certain forms of harassment and retaliation to domestic workers.

If you are thinking about hiring a nanny or other domestic worker, and would like to set up a consultation to discuss the applicable legal requirements involved with such a hire, I would be happy to help.  Please contact me to set up a consultation.  The best way to reach me is my direct office line: 585.512-3542.  You can also contact me through my contact page.

One last thing.  While this post is primarily concerned with some of the legal aspects of hiring a nanny or other domestic worker, it is probably not the most important part of the process.  The most important part is to make sure that the person you hire is not only qualified and a good fit, but also has nothing in their background that would make them unfit to care for your child or other loved one.  The New York State Office of Children & Family Services has information on its website: http://www.ocfs.state.ny.us, where you can find out more about the background checks available to parents under Kieran’s Law.  Among other things, you should be able to obtain criminal background information, as well as Department of Motor Vehicles information.

This publication is intended as an information source for clients, prospective clients, and colleagues and constitutes attorney advertising. The content should not be considered legal advice and readers should not act upon information in this publication without individualized professional counsel.


2 Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    Is there a good website or firm that will help workers that have been retaliated against? I have had some difficulty finding help.

    • peteweishaar says:

      It depends on the nature of the retaliation. You may be well served to find an attorney willing to offer you a consultation, so you can obtain a better understanding of the law, your rights, and options if the retaliation is unlawful. Typically consultations such as this are offered for a flat fee, and it may be well worth the money to give you peace of mind.

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