Employee policies: Who can access paid sick leave?
Domestic workers need equal rights.
Over the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the vital role that care workers who work inside our private homes–including nannies, homecare workers and house cleaners–play in our lives. The pandemic has also made clear how important employee policies, like sick leave, are for keeping our families and communities safe.
Employee policies: Access to sick leave
A recent survey found that 65% of Seattle’s domestic workers don’t have access to paid sick leave, and 90% of house cleaners have not been able to take time off for rest and recovery from illness. One worker shared, “When we don’t have access to paid time off, it means that a lot of the time, we have to go to work sick or make the difficult decision of adjusting our budget, which is generally already pushed to its limit. Many of us are living day-to-day, and this creates extra stress thinking of how we will pay for basic necessities like rent, phone bills, and gas.”
Domestic workers have historically been excluded from labor protections since the New Deal, when lawmakers negotiated Black domestic and farm workers out of the laws that provided the rights and protections workers enjoy today.
In 2018, the city of Seattle was the first municipality in the country to pass a Domestic Workers Ordinance to give the city’s domestic workers minimum wage, rest break, and meal break rights.
Bridging employee rights and benefits
Today, a coalition of household workers and employers made up of Casa Latina, Working Washington/Fair Work Center, Harry Bridges Labor Center, and Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network have come together to build off the protections in the Seattle city ordinance to ensure that domestic workers also have access to paid sick leave, as a critical health and safety issue.
Paid leave: Helping to keep communities safe
Last November, the coalition supported a Resolution to make sure that all domestic workers – nannies, house cleaners, home care workers and gardeners – have access to paid sick leave. The Resolution was unanimously supported by the Seattle City Council.
Now the City and coalition are working on developing that policy to ensure that domestic workers can take paid time off when they need it to keep themselves and all of our households safe.
Help create equitable policy: Take our survey
To support this policy development, Hand in Hand is conducting a city-wide survey of people living in Seattle who employ a house cleaner, home care worker or nanny on a regular basis to share their experience and help shape this policy for our city.
Survey respondents will be entered into a drawing to win a $50 gift card and copy of the book “Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change” by Angela Garbes, an award-winning Seattle-based author who writes about caregiving in the United States.
About our organization
Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network is a nonprofit organization that organizes employers of nannies, house cleaners and caregivers to advocate for domestic worker rights. Hand in Hand understands that fair and safe working conditions for domestic workers benefit workers and employers alike.