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Seattle Extends Labor Protections To Domestic Workers

Seattle City Council
Seatlle City Councilwoman Teresa Mosqueda introducing the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights Ordinance on June 21, 2018. It passed on July 23.

Seattle has passed a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.  Under the city ordinance, house cleaners, nannies, gardeners and other domestic workers will be covered by the city’s $15-an-hour minimum wage and other labor protections.

Although eight states have passed similar legislation extending labor laws to domestic workers, Seattle is believed to be the first city to do so.

Domestic workers were specifically excluded when national labor  laws were passed guaranteeing workers the right to unionize.

Seattle City Councilwoman Teresa Mosqueda, who sponsored the ordinance, urged the council to think about all that domestic workers do. 

“They  clean our homes and they clean our yards and they’ve been left out of labor laws, but today we passed some basic protections to make sure that those who are caring for our most vulnerable and caring for our homes are truly cared for,” Mosqueda said.

In addition to extending the minimum wage, the law requires workers to be given regular rest and meal breaks. 

In the case of nannies, who might not be able to take breaks while caring for children, the ordinance requires they be given extra compensation.

There are some exceptions to the ordinance. The law doesn’t, for example, cover the occasional  babysitter or family member caring for another. The ordinance establishes an appointed board to oversee implementation and make recommendations to the City Council.

Mayor Jenny Durkan is expected to sign the ordinance which is being labeled the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.