The new Massachusetts domestic workers statute — captioned in the Legislature as a “Bill of Rights” for this class of employees — is set to take effect on April 1. It provides variety of rights to housekeepers, nannies, caregivers, cooks, and others who work in residences across the Commonwealth.
The law was enacted in June 2014. Among its highlights are requirements that individuals who work more than 40 hours per week in covered job categories receive a 24-hour rest period each week and a 48-hour rest period each month; that employees who don’t live at the home where they are providing labor be paid for every hour they work up to 24 consecutively; that, for those employees who do live in the home, sleep-time hours deductions and meals/ lodging deductions be written; and that domestic workers receive maternity leave rights. The statute also requires employers of domestic workers to keep records of wages paid and hours worked. It grants privacy rights to domestic employees, who may also request job reviews from their employers. Advance notice or severance pay may be required when employment of live-in workers is terminated without cause. Babysitters are not covered by the new statute.
The statute also expressly prohibits sexual advances that are tied to a domestic worker’s job security or benefits. Sexual harassment of domestic workers is also expressly prohibited. The remedies provided by the Massachusetts Anti-Discrimination Statute, Mass. Gen. L. ch. 151B, apply. They include potential damages for lost wages, emotional distress and sometimes punitive damages, and legal fee reimbursement.