D.C. Council likely to pass domestic worker protection bill

Photo courtesy of the DMV chapter of National Domestic Workers Alliance

D.C. is likely to pass a law soon that would extend workplace protections to domestic workers — including nannies, gardeners, cleaners, and personal assistants.

Why it matters: The bill has been in the works since 2019 and would give the estimated 4,000 domestic workers in D.C. the same protections afforded to other workers.

Details: The bill also covers domestic workers under local human rights laws.

  • It requires employers of domestic workers to provide a written contract prior to the first day of employment that includes a start date, location of work, a schedule, information on paid and unpaid leave, whether a car is needed, salary, and pay schedule.

The District administration would be responsible for enforcing the law and providing employers with a contract template.

  • In addition to new protections, the bill would create grant funding for organizations that can help domestic workers understand their rights and how to file a complaint. The information will be provided in multiple languages, including English and Spanish.

Between the lines: Domestic workers would be able to file complaints with the mayor’s office or in civil court if their rights are violated.

What they’re saying: Rafael Lacayo, a domestic worker who for three years has provided home care for elderly clients in D.C., tells Axios the legislation would give him and other domestic workers the power to advocate for their working conditions.

  • He says other domestic workers have shared stories about the discrimination they’ve experienced based on race or language barriers.

The bill would also give employers clarity, says Aaron Seyedian, owner of Well Paid Maids, a D.C. cleaning business with just over 30 employees.

  • Domestic work is often an informal arrangement, he tells Axios. The bill is a “tool to turn this into a more professionalized relationship.”

What’s next: The legislation is expected to pass a final vote on Dec. 20.

To take effect, the policy would need to be funded through the next D.C. Council budget cycle, Alana Eichner, co-lead of the D.C. chapter of the National Domestic Workers Alliance tells Axios.

  • That cost — estimated to be $740,000 in fiscal year 2023 and $2.5 million through fiscal year 2026 — would go toward an outreach campaign and hiring support staff at the Department of Employment Services.