More and more families consist of two working parents.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, and for many families, it’s an
economic necessity. This means that many parents have to hire a nanny to take
care of their children while they’re at work. These individuals operate as an
unseen workforce and economy, where there is almost no regulation
or workplace protection.
It looks like this is about to change in
The protections in this law, which the governor of
Many bloggers, while generally grating
the bill’s good intentions, point out some pretty serious practical
problems. For example, most commentators don’t have a problem with the fact
that the law will seek to protect workers who are not in the country legally.
They ask, however, how such provisions will be enforced. For instance, it’s not
clear how many nannies, especially illegal immigrants, will report violations
of this law, for fear of retaliation (being reported to immigration
authorities, for example). This fact might encourage people to hire illegal
immigrants to work as nannies over people who are in the
are concerns that this might make life much more difficult for working
families, while doing very little to help domestic employees.
Nobody is denying that these issues make enforcement of the law problematic, but some lawmakers opposed to the measure have taken the rhetoric a step further, resorting to outright falsehoods. One lawmaker argues that the 2-week-notice provision might deter parents from immediately firing a nanny who they suspect of child abuse. Leaving alone the fact that any sane parent would probably not care what the law says in a situation like this, the new law specifically addresses this possibility. The notice provision doesn’t apply in cases of suspected abuse.
Also, perhaps to alleviate concerns that this law would
destroy the market for casual domestic employees, like babysitters, this law
only applies to people for whom working as a nanny is their primary source of
As mentioned earlier, these provisions are pretty reasonable
on their face. There is no getting around the problem of enforcing them,
however. Indeed, according to recent LegalMatch
data, hardly any workers who have reported wage, hour, or overtime violations
have been in the domestic service industry, with in-home healthcare workers
being a limited exception. None of the people who reported wage and hour
problems anywhere in the
There are a few possible explanations for this.
First of all, it’s possible that the bill’s detractors are correct: domestic workers simply don’t report illegal conduct by their employers, because they’re illegal immigrants afraid of being found out, or any number of other possible reasons (fear of retaliation is a big one, as a significant number of nannies report verbal and physical abuse by their employers). This could serve as an illustration that laws like this, no matter their intentions, are futile.
Of course, the law’s supporters could just as easily argue that these figures demonstrate the need for the protections this law will afford. After all, they might say, these “violations” aren’t being reported, because, legally, there’s nothing to report: these workers have almost none of the legal rights that other employees take for granted, so even if they are being exploited, there’s little the law can do for them.
Obviously, based on the limited data available, it’s
impossible to say which side is correct.
A few things are certain. First, we know that there’s a problem, especially in very large cities, as domestic workers are being exploited by their employers simply because it’s easy to do. We also know that some workplace protections, similar to those enjoyed by most other employees, are necessary for domestic workers. However, it also appears plainly obvious that there’s no perfect solution to this problem.
Perhaps this law will prove to be an important step in the
right direction. However, changes like this cannot be made in a vacuum if we
expect them to be successful. For example, immigration
reform is necessary if the effects of this law are not to be negated by the
fact that many illegal immigrants will not report violations. Obviously, I
don’t know exactly what these changes would entail, but a general policy geared
towards making it easier to enter the
By: Rusty Shackleford