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Domestic workers provide services in a home. These services include housekeeping, cleaning, cooking, home management, and caring for children or adults in their homes.
Domestic workers have the same rights as other workers to minimum wage, overtime, and other wage and hour protections. There are also special rules for domestic workers relating to recordkeeping, rest time, charges for food and lodging, the information they must have about their jobs and rights, and conditions for live-in domestic workers.
Employers must follow all laws for their domestic workers regardless of immigration status.
Every domestic worker must receive a notice of their employment rights under state and federal law from their employer. An employer can comply with this requirement by providing the Attorney General's notice.
Employers must give domestic workers who work 16 or more hours a week a written agreement that includes information about:
This agreement must be in written in a language the worker easily understands, signed by the worker and employer, and made before work begins. Employers and workers may use the Attorney General’s sample template below or may want to visit this website. The employer must keep the agreement on file for at least 3 years.
Employers of domestic workers must keep payroll records and provide paystubs. Records should be kept for 3 years.
Domestic workers who work 16 or more hours a week must receive a timesheet at least every two weeks that shows the number of hours worked each day. The timesheet should be signed or acknowledged by both the worker and employer. A worker who disagrees with the number of hours listed has the right to make a note on the timesheet of the hours the worker believes he or she worked. Signing a timesheet does not mean that the worker cannot later claim any additional wages owed. Failure to sign a timesheet does not allow an employer to delay or withhold pay.
Domestic workers who work 40 or more hours a week must get at least 1 full day (24 hours) off each week and 2 full days (48 hours) off each month. A worker can give up this rest period through a written agreement with the employer. The agreement must be in a language the worker easily understands and must be made before the specified rest period is missed. If the worker then works more than 40 hours during the week, then the worker must be paid overtime.
If the worker is on duty for less than 24 hours, the employer must pay for all meal, rest, and sleeping periods, unless the worker has no work duties and is allowed to leave during those times.
If the worker is required to be on duty for 24 hours or more, the worker and employer may agree that some meal periods, rest periods, or sleep periods up to 8 hours will not be counted as paid working time.
Employers are not allowed to deduct money from a worker's pay unless the law allows it or the employee asked for the deduction for the worker's own benefit.
Employers may charge for food, drinks, or housing that they provide to the worker, but only if the employee voluntarily accepts these for his or her own benefit and the following conditions are met:
Workers have the right to privacy, even if they live in the employer’s home. An employer must not:
Employers must not discriminate in hiring, pay, or other terms of employment based on a worker's:
Employers who have phone or Internet service must give workers free and reasonable access to those services.
If they do not have phone or Internet service, they must allow reasonable opportunities to access those services elsewhere at the workers' own expense.
Workers who live in their employer's home or in another place required by their employer have certain additional rights if the employer fires them or lays them off. Unless a domestic worker is fired for cause, the employer must give the worker:
If the employer fires a domestic worker for cause, the employer must provide:
If the employer makes a written statement in good faith saying that the worker did something that harmed the employer or his/her family or household, the employer can:
Important! No matter what the reason for ending the employment, the employer must pay the worker all wages owed, including all earned, unused paid vacation time, on the last day of work.
A worker who gets hurt while on the job may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Even if the employer does not have worker’s compensation insurance, workers who miss more than 5 days of work because of work-related injury or illness may be able to get compensated for medical care and lost wages. For more information, contact the Department of Industrial Accidents at (617) 727-4900.
An employer must not punish or discriminate against a domestic worker for exercising his or her rights. This applies to all workers, regardless of immigration status. If an employer reports or threatens to report an undocumented worker to immigration authorities for complaining about a violation, the employer can be prosecuted and/or subject to civil penalties.
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