Yesterday, many American workers were able to enjoy a day off of work as our country honored and celebrated Labor Day. Over the decades, workers in California and throughout the entire country have not only made significant contributions to improve protections and workplace conditions for employees in all types of occupations, workers have also made significant contributions to our economy.

Our country has come a long way since the first Labor Day was celebrated in 1882, but there are many other workers in our country who are still lacking basic protections under state and federal laws, especially when it comes to workplace discrimination or wage and hour law issues. One group of workers fighting for better protections in our state and country is domestic employees.

Domestic employees include nannies, housekeepers, yard workers, maids or any other person who is hired to perform household work in or around one’s home. These employees often work full-time or even overtime hours. But domestic employees are not always paid overtime wages, and they are not protected under meal and rest break laws as other workers are. One Los Angeles woman said that she only made about $35 per day when she was caring for an elderly couple. Her situation is not uncommon. Fortunately, this could change soon for workers in California.

Last week, state lawmakers passed the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. The bill guarantees basic protections for domestic workers including mandated breaks to rest and to eat meals during long shifts. The bill also includes overtime pay for domestic workers.

The need for such a bill arises from the growing demand for housekeepers, nannies and other domestic workers. Many professionals and families rely on domestic employees to help them out with household tasks and child care, and these tasks are demanding. However, many domestic workers are not always compensated properly for their labor or treated fairly like other employees who work in corporate America.

The bill is now awaiting approval from Governor Jerry Brown.

Source: Forbes, “This Labor Day, Let’s Celebrate Domestic Workers,” Sept. 3, 2012