17 November 2023
For the first time, the Labor Department is offering sample agreements for domestic workers and their employers to clarify expectations and protect workers’ rights.
For the first time, the Labor Department has published sample agreements for domestic workers. These agreements would specifically help delineate the responsibilities of workers, mostly women of color, who clean homes and care for children, older adults, and people with disabilities.
The sample agreements are a part of a broader set of executive orders on caregiving President Joe Biden signed in April and have long been sought by domestic workers and their advocates. There are three different sample agreements on the Department of Labor’s website: one for house cleaners, one for home care workers, and one for nannies.
The agreements are not legally binding in the same sense that employment contracts are. There is also no requirement that employers use them – this would be required by law. But they are a step towards increasing the power of domestic workers to advocate for themselves.
“These model workforce agreements for domestic workers were a key pillar of that executive order. They are important deliverables of the Department of Labor,” said Wendy Chun-Hoon, director of the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau, an agency tasked with improving conditions for women at work.
According to Chun-Hoon, work on sample agreements began about four months before the executive order and the order helped empower the federal government to complete the project. “The executive order helped codify and expedite action,” Chun-Hoon said.
Chun-hoon first learned about domestic worker agreements when she had her first child and started looking for a nanny. She lives in Montgomery County, MD, which in 2008 became the first place in the United States to require contracts between domestic workers and their employers. She realized that she didn’t know how to write a contract or agreement. He had not hired anyone for this kind of work before.
Chun-hoon used a sample agreement to form the basis of contact with his grandmother. The document made the process easier and defined expectations for both her and her future nanny. She said, “A local nonprofit had a sample agreement that was easily downloadable for me, both as a brand-new employer and as a mom who trusted someone with her newborn in our home. Is.”
Since then, sample agreements have spread to many cities and states, provided either by local or state governments or by local nonprofit organizations. This is the first time that the federal government has published sample languages or encouraged their use.
“There is not a lot of established policy at the federal level. Some states and cities have actually taken action to establish a better expression of what the employer-employee relationship actually is and requires. But overall there has been a gap in terms of tools and support. So this is really filling that gap,” Chun-Hoon said.
The agreement was announced at CareFest, a conference of business, celebrity and movement leaders in the care sector. The event took place in Los Angeles and was organized by Caring Across Generations, an organization that advocates for better caregiving policy in the United States.
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Nicole Jorvik is Head of Advocacy and Campaigns for Caring Across Generations. He applauded the move, noting that a national model agreement was particularly meaningful given that many efforts have been made at the state and local level.
“The fact that this is coming from the Department of Labor at the national, federal level, is a real recognition of the value of this work,” Jorvik explained. 19th,
Although the agreements may seem like a small step, they are a big step forward for workers and families, according to Haeyoung Yoon, senior director of policy and advocacy at the National Domestic Workers Alliance, an organization that advocates for improved labor conditions for domestic workers. There are victories.
“This is huge. This is something that our workers and our movement have been asking the administration to do. The fact that this was included in the executive order signed by President Biden in April was huge. This fact has now been published by the Labor Department [the sample agreements] Very big,” Yoon said.
Sample agreements and contracts have long been a priority for organizers in the domestic worker sector, but, according to Yoon, the COVID-19 pandemic has really made the need for them clear to many workers.
“Throughout the pandemic, we consistently heard from workers that what they really wanted was some kind of written agreement that would help them talk to their employers about the terms and responsibilities of their increased workloads, to ensure they are better to negotiate and bargain for—for fair pay for the labor they’re providing, and be clear about what their responsibilities should be,” Yoon said.
Over the next few weeks, the Women’s Bureau aims to expand the agreements by providing texts in multiple languages, starting with Spanish. About a third of domestic workers are immigrants, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a left-wing think tank that analyzes the impact of economic policy.
“We are going to be updating that website with more information in the coming weeks, including ensuring that these documents are translated into different languages, as domestic workers speak many different languages. We want to make it really accessible,” Chun-Hoon said.
Adriana Barrera, a domestic cleaner, presented her experiences to the Labor Department last month, along with other National Domestic Workers Coalition members, as part of the process of drafting sample agreements.
“Representing house cleaners, I recalled past injustices such as wage theft and overwork without rest – a reality now acknowledged in the Department of Labor’s sample agreements. “It is a deep honor to have my experience and voice reflected in these contracts,” Barrera said. 19th Through an interpreter.
Barrera speaks Spanish. She spent a decade either working with contracts that were not in her native language and were therefore difficult to understand, or without any contracts or agreements at all. He said incorporating his insights into the model agreement process had boosted his confidence. “I have shared this information with every domestic worker I have met, and encouraged them to claim their rights. There is still much to be done to hold employers accountable, but we now have a basis from which we can demand our rights and secure fair treatment. For immigrants, who often suffer exploitation and fear retribution, this progress is important.