“Domestic workers” are people who work in another person’s home. Their jobs can include caring for children or a sick or elderly person, housekeeping chores, and other domestic duties performed in the employers’ homes
People who hire domestic help, whether a housekeeper, a caregiver or a nanny, are often unaware of the legal liabilities and requirements that an employer faces. For example, in New York State, anyone who employs domestic help must:
1. Pay at least minimum wage and, where applicable, pay overtime*
2. Provide at least one day of rest per week
3. Pay on a weekly basis
4. Provide at least 3 days off after 1 year of work
5. Pay unemployment
6. Pay worker’s compensation
7. Provide the worker written documentation with notification of hourly wage and all deductions.
8. * 1½ times the basic rate of pay after 40 hours of work or if a live-in after 44 hours of work per week
Anyone who has not been properly paid or has been victimized as a result of non-compliance with these regulations has the right to file a complaint with the appropriate regulatory agency, regardless of his or her residency status. Therefore, an undocumented worker will have the right to file a complaint, although they will need work authorization before receiving unemployment benefits.
It should be noted that these requirements do not apply to workers employed on a casual basis, such as part-time baby-sitters in the home of their employers, or relatives of persons for whom they offer care.
In addition, there is a separate section in the New York State Human Rights Law, section 296-b, which prohibits certain unlawful discriminatory practices relating to “domestic workers.” That statute states that it is an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to engage in unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, and unwelcome harassment based on gender, race, religion or national origin, where such harassment has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
Anyone who hires a domestic worker must realize they are assuming the same rights, responsibilities, and obligations as any other employer, and that non-compliance can create significant, and potentially expensive, legal and financial liabilities.
Alan H. Krystal, P.C.
195 Smithtown Blvd #101, Nesconset