New Massachusetts’ law expands rights of Domestic Workers

gavel-5-1409595-m  Beginning April 1, 2015 Massachusetts will extend employment protections to domestic workers.   The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights will create new legal obligations for individuals or families who employ domestic workers including nannies, housekeepers, caregivers, and other domestic workers.   The new law will create a number of new rights that will improve conditions for domestic workers such as a statutory right to privacy and how a live-in domestic worker may be terminated.   Also, the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights definitively clarified that some existing state laws do extend to domestic workers.   Included among existing Massachusetts laws that will extend to domestic workers are Massachusetts’ workers compensation benefits.

Thus, if a domestic worker is found to have been injured during and arising out of the course of their employment they are indeed entitled to Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation benefits.   Domestic workers are defined as individuals who are paid to perform work of a domestic nature within a household, such as housekeeping, house cleaning, nanny services, home management, laundering, cooking, home companion services, and caretaking of individuals. However, while the law does apply to nannies it does not apply to casual babysitters defined as those who provide childcare services on a casual, intermittent and irregular basis, or individuals whose primary job is not childcare. Nor does the statute apply to individuals who provide services to persons with disabilities or seniors under the MassHealth personal attendant program. The law applies to any person that is found to be a domestic worker, regardless if the worker resides in the household in which they work.

Other existing laws that will be extended to domestic workers’ as of April 1, 2015 involve the prohibition against unlawful harassment, leaves of absence for childbirth, and protections against retaliation for wage and hour complaints. The statute also generates a significant amount of new rights and duties that differ from those available to other employees in Massachusetts.  Some of the new rights and obligations consist of notice requirements that an employer is required to give the domestic worker, the definition of working time, recordkeeping, and notice of termination and severance. The new law places significant burdens on the employers of domestic workers, most of whom are families and households. The statute allows for domestic workers to file lawsuits in court and workers’ compensation claims in front of the Department of Industrial Accidents.

If you are a domestic worker and are injured on the job you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. Also, if you are employed elsewhere you may be able to receive additional compensation based on your multiple employment positions and combined average weekly wage from your multiple jobs (“concurrent wages”). Furthermore, if your injury was caused due to a malfunction or inoperative household appliance you may be able to recover damages based on a third party negligence claim. For further information please call our Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation attorneys today.