Attorney General Healey Files Draft Regulations to Support New Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights Law
Bill of Rights Protects Workers in Private Homes, Clarifies Rules for Employers
BOSTON —Attorney General Maura Healey announced today she has filed draft regulations to support the new Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, which became law in Massachusetts today. The regulations set forth the workplace rights of domestic workers who provide housekeeping, childcare and other caretaking services in private homes across the Commonwealth and clarify the obligations of employers. The regulations also outline the authority of the Attorney General to investigate violations and enforce the law.
“The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights offers strong protections for workers who support families in their daily lives,” AG Healey said. “The law and these regulations make clear that domestic workers have rights just like employees in more traditional workplaces. These regulations acknowledge the unique environments these workers are employed in and reinforce the responsibilities employers have for ensuring those rights are protected.”
“I want to thank Attorney General Maura Healey for drafting regulations and for supporting the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Law,” said Rep. Michael Moran (D -Brighton), one of the sponsors of the bill. “The law established labor standards that provide domestic workers with a safe work environment and basic workplace rights. These regulations will now provide employers with clear guidelines on their responsibilities to protect those rights.”
“Today, we take another step forward with the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights becoming law,” said Senator Anthony Petruccelli (D - East Boston), one of the bill’s sponsors. “Our work to restore employment equity and extend new protections to domestic workers provides the same standard of care and diligence that is provided in the homes of their employers. I applaud the Attorney General’s proposed regulations, continuing the mission of ensuring maximum protection for workers who support families.”
The law, and regulations, protect domestic workers regardless of immigration status and ensures that domestic workers:
- Are paid no less than the minimum wage of $9 an hour;
- Are provided reasonable rest periods, whether paid or unpaid;
- Receive one day off a week and two consecutive days off a month if they work more than 40 hours a week (for live-in domestic workers);
- Are provided a written notice including terms of employment and sick and vacation leave policies, and a written agreement regarding terms and conditions of employment, if they work 16 or more hours a week;
- Are provided a notice of state and federal laws that apply to them specifically;
- Can request a written evaluation from their employer; and
- Have a right to privacy in their living area and in their correspondence with friends, family and others.
The regulations also clarify what constitutes appropriate deductions for food and lodging and make clear domestic workers’ right to overtime, earned sick time and parental leave.
Under the new law, employers are specifically prohibited from taking passports and other personal documents from domestic workers, and from retaliating against those who assert their rights under the new law. For domestic workers who live in the home, the regulations also require households to provide access to telephones and the Internet.
The regulations further outline the rights and obligations of both the domestic worker and their employer upon termination of employment. The regulations clarify employer’s obligations to maintain payroll records.
Finally, the regulations explain the different types of enforcement mechanisms available to the Attorney General’s Office, including the authority to assess penalties or obtain injunctive relief. The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination also has enforcement authority to enforce the discrimination laws on behalf of domestic workers. In addition to the Attorney General’s authority to enforce the law, the law provides a private right of action under which a worker can herself pursue a private civil lawsuit for violations of the law.
The regulations were filed with the Secretary of State’s Office on March 27 and are posted on the AG’s website. Members of the public can submit comments or written testimony until May 15. Comments can be submitted by sending an email to email@example.com or at a public hearing in the AG’s Office on May 8 at 12 p.m. The hearing will be held in conference room C on the second floor of the Saltonstall Building at 100 Cambridge St. in Boston.