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Paid Sick Days, Vacations Proposed for Maids, Nannies

May 25, 2010

The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights—which stalled last year with the New York Senate coup—has re-emerged and will be brought to a vote in the state Senate on June 1.

The bill, which would provide domestic workers such as nannies and maids with paid sick days, holidays and vacation days, and require advance notice of their termination, has 26 co-sponsors, including Frank Padavan, a Republican from Queens. Proponents say 10 additional “yes” votes have been promised, including several other Republicans. There is no organized opposition to the bill.

“We’re not asking for special rights, just a set of standards that will bring domestic workers in line with every other worker that has the right of collective bargaining,” says Priscilla Gonzalez, director of Domestic Workers United, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Employers who don’t comply would be subject to civil and criminal penalties. Both the labor commissioner and attorney general could bring legal action against the employer.

Following four years of efforts by domestic workers and their advocates, the bill appeared headed to passage last year, but it was derailed by the Senate coup. A less comprehensive version of the bill passed in the Assembly. If the Senate approves the measure next week, the two versions would then be brought together via reconciliation.

Busloads of domestic workers are expected to travel from New York City to Albany to be present for the vote. The bill would be the first legislation in the nation to recognize domestic workers as a workforce and give them rights.

Filed by Daniel Massey of Crain’s New York Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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