The Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights, or AB889, would give California in-house workers like nannies, housekeepers and home health aides basic labor protections such as overtime pay, guaranteed sleeping time, five-day work weeks and meal breaks. With the bill going before a Senate committee next week, we discuss its implications for caregivers, families and for those requiring in-home care.

Marci Seville, professor of law at Golden Gate University School of Law and director of the Women's Employment Rights Clinic
Grecia Lima, campaign director for the California Domestic Workers Coalition
Robert Nuddleman, senior associate with Phillip J. Griego & Associates, an employment law firm
Jordan Lindsey, director of policy and public affairs for the California Association for Health Services at Home
Deborah Doctor, legislative advocate with Disability Rights California

  • goodaji

    Is there a number that we can call to call in to the show?

  • goodaji

    If this passes, home care workers will NOT be able to get 12-hour or 24-hour shifts, because their employers are not going to be able to pay overtime for more than 8 hours per day or 12 hours per day (because the clients won’t pay time-and-a-half fee rates).  

    So, the home care workers will have to work for several different employers in order to get enough hours to make a living.  Home care companies will have to hire more workers and will incur higher overhead due to managing that higher number of people, and also due to the new per-worker fees that the companies are required to pay under this bill.  

    Consumers will pay more, and employees will have to work for more companies.  Who wins?  The unions.  

  • goodaji

    As usual, the state government has exempted itself and its home care workers from the provisions of this bill.  Why would the unions go along with that?  After all, all the workers that work for the state program (called IHSS, or In-Home Supportive Services) already are required to belong to the unions (SEIU or UDW) so there is nothing to be gained by the state legislature, or the unions who virtually control the legislature.

    Why aren’t those IHSS workers entitled to equal protection?  Because that would increase the state’s costs.  It’s apparently ok for the state to increase the costs it imposes on private employers, but not itself.

  • goodaji

    Let’s just be honest about this:  home care workers will NOT receive overtime pay if this passes.  

    They’ll be forced to work for two or three employers every day, and will only be able to work for up to eight hours per day for each one.  

  • goodaji

    This bill is also designed to attract more caregivers to work for the IHSS system, where they can get enough hours from just one employer.  Of course, then they have to join a union.  

    Who wins in THAT case?  Hmmm?

  • Leslie

    My 80-year-old aunt lives in the Marina and has 2 caregivers that work a 4-day and 3-day shift respectively (through a licensed agency).  They would have to commute 3 hours daily to get to & from their Outer Sunset residences if the long shifts were banned.  They are wonderful with my aunt, and have told me that they prefer a 24-hour shift to the constant commuting.  I’m sure they get woken up in the middle of the night as she stirs about, but being able to stay put during the day seems to override the sleep disturbance. 

  • Tledeadbug

    Care givers will be forced to go underground to make a decent wage. Why would I work for an agency and take on multiple clients when I can be an independent contractor and work 3 days 24/7 and make as much as I did working full time in traditional 40 hour a week in a hospital.

    • Maybe the agency might provide benefits, pay into Social Security and State unemployment insurance, and help provide training? 

  • Jeffreylowemail

    Aren’t they “on-call”, and not working while they are sleeping on the job?  Should they be subject to a split wage rate, for being asleep and then on duty?

    • Good point.  In fact, in-home caregivers are “on call” even during waking hours.  Unlike working in a facility with12 patients who all need to receive care in an 8 hour shift, home care workers are working for one client and therefore usually have quite a lot of “down” time. The senior clients often take naps or watch TV.  The level of work simply cannot be compared with that in a facility of regular office job.To your point about sleep hours, current CA law does provide that a live-in personal attendant must have a minimum of 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  We make that very clear with our clients in our Service Agreement and also with our caregivers and we do enforce it. 

  • Jeffreylowemail

    How about hireing 3 workers, for 3 shifts of 8 hours each.

    • As Jordan Lindsay mentioned during the show, this puts a strain on the continuity of care.  Imagine a senior who is already having their privacy “invaded”, if you will, by having a stranger come into their home 24 hours/day.  If this bill passes, they will have to put up with a parade of people coming around the clock.  And what benefit is gained for the caregivers themselves.  As another poster pointed out, the commute to the client’s home can be long and costly for some.  It wouldn’t make sense financially for some caregivers to take the shorter shifts.

  • goodaji

    There are three ways that people hire home care workers:

    1.  They hire them privately – this is the underground economy – there is no enforcement of any tax reporting laws against individuals – the client pays whatever they want, often less than minimum wage – $7 or $8 per hour – this is the riskiest proposition for the client

    2.  They hire them through a non-employer “referral agency” – this is also the underground economy – there is no enforcement of any tax reporting laws against individuals – the client pays whatever they want, usually less than what a home care company would charge – $15 or so per hour – this is also a very risky proposition for the client

    3.  They hire them through a home care company  – the worker’s taxes are collected and paid, the company pays for workers comp and is responsible for negligent acts of the workers – they pay $20 or so per hour – this is the safe solution for the client.

    If this bill passes, the rate paid by clients for numbers 1 and 2 will not change (because the state won’t prosecute individual disabled or elderly people).  

    The rate paid by clients for number three, however, would increase significantly.  

    The effect of all this will be to push a LOT of caregiving into the underground economy.  Everyone loses in that situation.

  • I couldn’t have said it better!

  • I couldn’t have said it better!

  • Oops – I was trying to reply to goodaji’s “Three Ways that People Hire” post…

  • Tally

    Expanding labor protections creates more stability for everyone
    · Employers want to have standards that let them know, “I’m a good employer”
    · This bill extends basic labor protections that are found in other industries to these vital, but vulnerable workers. That means greater stability, reduced turnover, and a higher quality of care for our families.
    · With clear standards we can protect these valuable workers from harm by bad -apple employers, or uninformed employers who are unaware that their practices may negatively impact workers.

  • Ally

    This bill will strengthen an industry which is vital to many Californians
    · Improving this workforce means millions of Californians will be able to go to work and contribute to the economy without worrying about their loved ones, who will be in the hands of well-trained and increasingly professional caregivers.
    · The standards proposed in this bill will help keep the industry above ground by creating uniform rules

    • goodaji

      Nonsense.  This bill will drive a significant percentage of the workforce into the underground economy, leading to losses in tax revenues and reductions in protections for workers and consumers alike.  Do you have any first-hand knowledge of this industry, or are you just an outsider stirring the pot?

  • M.Y.

    This bill would include domestic workers in the same basic labor protections that are extended to other workers in California.  In addition, it will improve the quality of care for our families and loved ones. It has been shown in many different fields of work that longer shifts lead to increased risks for mistakes and accidents. Although many home care jobs don’t involve the same stress level as, say, a nurse working in a care facility – other home care jobs do involve high levels of stress and a need to be “on” all the time.  Labor protections for domestic workers will create a higher level of stability and decrease employee turnover and burnout.

    In addition, creating clear standards and guidelines for the industry makes things more stable for both employers and workers. As someone who has employed a nanny, I’ve seen that it’s very stressful for nannies (who often only have a given job for 2-3 years or less, since children grow up and go to school) to be so dependent on their employers’ good will to have positive work conditions.  A nanny seeking a new job (which she’ll probably have to do ever couple of years, since children grow up and go to school) doesn’t know whether a new employer will follow fair employment practices.  Imagine having to negotiate for basic rights like meal and rest breaks each time you applied for a job!  AB 889 would help to create clear guidelines that employers could follow.

    • Some homebound adults need to have 24 hour awake care.  In these cases, our agency provides either two 12-hour or three-8 hour shifts.  Clients generally prefer the two 12s because they are less expensive and they entail fewer people coming and going from their home.

      We also watch closely for burnout in our caregivers and offer to trade shifts to work on other cases that are not as demanding.  So far, we have been turned down because the caregiver has developed a bond with the client and did not want to leave them.
      Referral agencies, IHSS, and underground workers will see no benefit from this bill.  But those agencies who are already trying to do the right thing – paying for Workers Comp, payroll taxes (including employer share of FICA and unemployment insurance) to protect the workers – will be hurt.  In the end, the seniors who today cannot afford to pay hourly rates much less overtime will really be hurt. They will be forced to go to the underground workers and give up the luxury of supervision and arranging for replacements if their caregiver does not show.  And they will have to deal with all of the HR issues on top of the stress they already have in their lives.

      To the nanny issue, I have to wonder what percentage of nanny employers are paying under-the-table already, and thus would not be impacted by this bill. If the people employing nannies are such miserable humans that their nannies have to negotiate being able to eat meals, laws will unfortunately not change them.

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