Saturday, September 17, 2011

California Babysitters Entitled to Workers' Comp?

Posted by Muhammad Ashraf at 5:24 AM
Finding a reliable babysitter can be a headache. Parents, above all, want a childcare provider that they can trust to properly care for their children. When you finally find such a person, you do not want to search for another babysitter to cover their breaks. However, if Assemblyman Tom Ammiano's new "babysitting bill" passes, childcare could quickly become more expensive and more complex.
Assembly Bill No. 889 has already passed in the Assembly and is receiving support in the U.S. Senate. If passed, parents would have to provide workers' compensation benefits and overtime payment to any domestic workers in their employment. If an employee works for more than five hours, they must receive a meal break, and every two hours they must receive a rest break. A substitute caregiver will have to cover these mandatory rest and meal breaks, which could pose serious inconveniences for busy parents. If they fail to meet all the requirements in the bill, they will be obliged to pay extra fees and could be liable to a lawsuit.
Workers who will be exempt from this bill are babysitters under the age of eighteen and family members. Thankfully, the bill was amended so that parents would not have to provide paid vacation time to domestic workers. However, providing workers' comp, mandatory breaks, and overtime, could prove to be too much for some families. It could prevent them from hiring any domestic workers, thus putting children and elderly family members into institutionalized care.
With an estimated 200,000 domestic workers in the state of California, it is important that their rights are protected. Some nannies live in unfit conditions and are paid well below the legal minimum wage. In the worst cases, they are exploited, have no job security, work long hours, and are abused and sexually assaulted. They are not protected by law as are other members of the workforce. The government does need to promote their safety and health, but many organizations do not believe this bill is the best way to do so. Complaints regarding its expensive and unrealistic stipulations are arising from care provider organizations and state agencies from across California. Since its first submission in February, the bill has undergone amendments and has been defended by its writers. Supported by the Democrats and opposed by the Republicans, it remains to be seen if the bill will make it out of the Senate and into state law.
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