Two landmark bills aimed at extending benefits and protections for domestic workers were enacted by Governor Hochul at the end of 2021.
The two bills, A6077A and A8007, were introduced by MP Jenifer Rajkumar (D-Woodhaven).
“With a new year comes a new era of dignity and respect for our domestic workers,” Rajkumar said in a prepared statement.
“They are the cornerstone of our economy and our society. By caring for our children, aging parents and loved ones with disabilities, they allow so many of us the flexibility to pursue careers.
The first bill includes domestic workers in the New York State Human Rights Act, providing protections against harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
The second bill extends paid family leave benefits to domestic workers. Those who work at least 20 hours a week will now be entitled to paid vacation and temporary disability insurance. Previously, they had to work at least 40 hours, despite having a minimum of 20 hours in most other industries.
There are more than 300,000 domestic workers and 2.7 million households that employ them in the state, according to the National Alliance of Domestic Workers.
In New York, their average annual income is $ 21,320. Domestic workers are vulnerable to exploitation, harassment and discrimination due to the informal and isolated nature of the work, experts say.
In New York State, 93% of domestic workers are women, 69% are immigrants, and 30% are African Americans.
“Domestic workers deserve the same freedom from discrimination and harassment as anyone in an office,” Rajkumar said in the statement.
“Just as domestic workers care for us, we must provide them with the paid time off they need if they or their loved ones are sick. I thank Governor Kathy Hochul for recognizing that domestic workers are workers and for signing my bills.
During his first days in office, Mayor Adams applauded the legislation. “My mother was a cleaner and a cook, so I know firsthand the challenges that domestic workers face,” he said in a statement.
“There were times when she had to choose between looking after her children and putting food on the table. Thanks to Assembly member Rajkumar, there is hope for families like mine. It is time for domestic workers to be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve under the law, and I look forward to partnering with Assembly Member Rajkumar in continuing to support them and all Working class New Yorker.
In Rajkumar’s address to the assembly, she said the inspiration for the bill was contituents like one of her own from Guyana who spends long days looking after children. The woman volunteered with Rajkumar at food drives and dreamed of buying a house and putting her own daughter in school.
“Her desire to give back to her community, to be independent and to be successful in the United States is inspiring and it is the essence of the American dream. I introduced this bill for her and for women like her.