Following in the footsteps of the states of New York, Hawaii and California, the state of Massachusetts has passed Domestic Workers Bill of Rights legislation that was signed by Governor Deval Patrick into law last Thursday, June 26th. The legislation, spearheaded by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, provides several new labor protections for nannies, senior caregivers, housekeepers and other household employees. While the law will not take effect until April 1, 2015, families need to be aware of the following new requirements:
1. Employees must have at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in each calendar week if they work 40 or more hours per week. If the employee agrees to work on their day of rest, they must be paid overtime (1.5 times the regular hourly rate) for each hour they work that day.
2. A household employee is allowed to take up to 8 weeks of maternity leave if she has worked full-time for the previous 3 months. The maternity leave does not have to be paid, but the family must hold the employee’s job if she decides to return to work.
3. Meals and lodging cannot be deducted from an employee’s wages without their prior written consent.
4. If the employee is a live-in and the family terminates her employment without cause, the family must give written notice and allow the employee to either; 1) Continue living in their home for at least 30 days, 2) Pay for comparable off-site housing, or 3) Give 2 weeks of severance pay to the employee. If the employee is terminated for cause, the family has no housing or severance obligations.
5. A written evaluation of the employee’s work performance must be given after 3 months of employment and annually moving forward if the employee requests it.
6. If the employee works 16 hours or more a week, the family must provide a contract that includes the following information:
- The rate of pay, including overtime and any additional compensation
- Working hours, including meal breaks and other time off
- Provisions for days of rest, sick days, vacation days, personal days and holidays and whether those days are paid or unpaid
- Information about severance and if transportation costs or health insurance are paid for or reimbursed
If you have any questions about any provisions in the Massachusetts Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and how it may affect your specific employment situation, please call our office at 888-273-3356. We’re here to help.