On May 8th, 2014, the Massachusetts State Senate passed the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights by a 39-0 vote. When it is passed into law, Massachusetts will be one of four states (New York, Hawaii, and California) in the country that guarantees certain employment rights for nannies and other caregivers. Erin Manning, an experienced nanny, shares her thoughts on why the Massachusetts Domestic Workers Bill of Rights is a great step forward for nannies and the families who employ them.
A couple of years ago I was on an email list for nannies, which was the first step into the full fledged nanny world as I know it today. On that email list was a section for legal services that caught my eye. I met Lydia Edwards,a lawyer and mediator, who founded the very first Domestic Workers Mediation Program nationwide. This was the first time I felt a part of something that was making an effort to bring my profession into the light and pushing for it to be looked at as a respectable career path.
I went through the training to become a domestic mediator, someone who works as a nanny, house cleaner or personal care assistant, or who employs one and have gone through training to be a neutral party in adding respectful conversations to resolve conflicts between employers and domestic employees. A few months later I was blown away to hear there was a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.
This bill will give basic rights to domestic workers in Massachusetts like all other industries and ensure that domestic workers in Massachusetts will be considered equal in the eyes of the law.
The Massachusetts Domestic Workers Bill of Rights includes:
- The bill includes live-out nannies and includes live-in nannies, personal care attendants.
- This bill will make work agreements a requirement for those that work for private homes for more than 16 hours a week.
- Yearly written performance reviews will be a must. This will open new lines of professional communication between nanny and family that did not formally and legally exist before.
- Live-ins will get 30 days notice or 2 weeks severance pay if fired without a written explanation of cause. This will allow nannies to have some time to figure out where they are going next. Formal communication should help facilitate healthier long-term working relationships.
- Families will not be able to put cameras in a nanny’s living quarters, like the bathroom and bedroom.
- Nannies will be eligible for 8-weeks unpaid maternity leave, as any other female employee of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
- This bill is putting our industry on the map in more ways than I could have ever imagined.
What the Bill means for nannies
This bill will be great for domestic workers especially nannies in the Commonwealth because it will empower them from the start. Nannies will have guidelines to follow. It helps to start turning the majority of the populations persecutive of what we nannies do. This bill gives nannies the basics when we negotiate taking a new job. It sets a minimum of standards for our industry. Last but not least families will have to inform us nannies of these rights.
What the Bill means for families
This bill sets minimum standards of what families can expect from a nanny just like a day care. They can have concrete guidelines to compare with other child care options. It helps to define the differences between a nanny and a babysitter. It outlines what the basic standards are in the nanny world. With so many new families going down the nanny route this bill gives them a starting point.
The bottom line: this bill in Massachusetts gives both nannies and families an even playing field from the start. Families will have the security knowing the nanny has been informed of the job requirements as each families needs differ. The nanny will know what they can expect from a family from the start with no second guess. Its a win-win for both parties.
Read the entire bill here.[author image=”http://sittercycle.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/photo-3.jpg” ]Erin Carroll-Manning, a native of Massachusetts, has worked as a career Nanny for over 13 years and has achieved several levels of accreditation during that time including Infant Care. She is a a specialist and postpartum Doula. She also was among the first to be trained as a mediator and Trainer for domestic workers as well as testified before the Massachusetts Legislature on behalf of The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights twice. Erin also co-hosts NDR (National Domestic Radio). In her free time, Erin loves traveling, exploring restaurants, taking walks on the beach, riding her bicycle. Erin is also married to a very supportive husband.[/author]