State of New York passes new domestic employee benefits law

A law guaranteeing benefits and workers' rights to domestic employees went into effect on Monday, providing financial security to thousands of previously unprotected domestic workers.

According to the Gotham Gazette, the New York State Domestic Workers Bill of Rights will guarantee time off and legal and harassment protection for the nearly 200,000 domestic workers statewide.

Additionally, domestic workers are now guaranteed overtime pay for work above 40 hours per week and three days paid vacation after one year on the job. The bill also extends disability benefits to employees who work fewer than 40 hours per week, Gotham Magazine reports.

Enforcing the laws will be tricky, however, New York State Supreme Court Justice Emily Jane Goodman wrote for Gotham. Ninety-nine percent of domestic workers in the state are either women, minorities, immigrants or all of the above, increasing the likelihood workers will
not challenge their employers.

The benefits fall short of those offered to workers in the private sector or within unions and fail to meet the goals sought for domestic workers 10 years ago, Goodman writes. Even so, the new law establishes a safety net for a vulnerable population of workers.

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