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The Rights of Domestic Workers in New York State

Under the New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, individuals are considered domestic workers if they work in another person’s home to care for children or an elderly person, to keep house (cooking and/or cleaning) or perform any other domestic jobs, such as gardening or making repairs.

Therefore, most people who work directly for another person are affected by this law, so long as that job is more than an occasional gig, such as babysitting or lawn mowing. The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights protects all domestic workers, including citizens of the United States, legal permanent residents, undocumented workers and immigrants with other lawful statuses, such as temporary protected status.

There are various protections afforded to domestic workers in New York, but it is important to note that these protections are only available those working directly for another person. If you work for an agency, the laws affecting you are different.

Under New York State labor laws, domestic workers have the following rights:

  • Payment of at least the minimum wage in their region, according to the minimum wage schedule outlined at www.labor.ny.gov/minimumwage
  • Payment of overtime at 1.5 times the basic rate of pay when work exceeds 40 hours in a calendar week. Live-in employees are entitled to overtime after 44 hours of work in a week.
  • One day (24 hours) of rest per week or overtime payment if the employee agrees to work on that day.
  • Payment issued each week, rather than every other week or monthly.
  • No deductions from payment without the written permission of the employee, except for legally authorized deductions meant for the benefit of the employee, such as Social Security, income tax withholding, automatic savings plans, health insurance and Medicare.
  • No money taken from wages for breakage or any other similar reason.
  • Written notification of all deductions to be taken from payment, regardless of the method of payment (cash, check, direct deposit).
  • At least three paid days off after a year of work for the same employer.
  • Protection against certain forms of harassment, such as unwelcome sexual advances or any conduct that creates a hostile environment (e.g., harassment based on gender, race, religion or national origin).
  • Protection against retaliation if the employee files a complaint about harassment by the employer.

In addition to these worker rights, employers must keep thorough payroll and time records for the number of hours put in by employees, the wages workers make and the deductions of those wages. Those records should be made available to employees if they ask for them.

To learn more about the rights available to domestic workers in New York State, contact an experienced New York wages and labor attorney with Cilenti & Cooper, PLLC.

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