Governor David A. Paterson recently signed bill number A1470B into law. The new law–the first of its kind to be enacted in the United States, grants workplace protections to domestic workers who had always been excluded from the protections and rights afforded to other “traditional” employees.

In summary, the new law provides many of the same protections employees and employers have come to expect through more traditional work relationships. Specifically, under the new law, effective November 29, 2010, domestic workers are entitled to, among other protections:

  1. The right to overtime pay at time and a half after 40 hours of work in a week, or 44 hours for in-home workers;
  2. A day of rest every seven days, or overtime pay if it is waived;
  3. Three paid days of rest annually after one year of work; 
  4. The removal of the domestic workers exemption from the New York State Human Rights Law, and the creation of a special cause of action for domestic workers who are subjected to harassment and/or an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment; and
  5. The extension of statutory disability benefits to the same degree as other workers.

Although the law excludes certain individuals, i.e. blood relatives, the reality is that an entirely new class of employees is now protected by New York law. Accordingly, employers–which may be a new concept for many individuals who simply employ a domestic worker, must ensure that they are in compliance with the new law to avoid an inquiry into their conduct. For a more detailed account of the new law, we invite you to read our firm’s “Alert” on this topic.