Expand and leverage public investment in home care to create quality jobs.
Eighty-three percent of home care services for the elderly and disabled are funded by public programs—most notably, Medicaid. Consequently, the government has a tremendous opportunity to shape and influence standards in the field that will make domestic jobs quality jobs that offer livable wages, access to healthcare, occupational health and safety protections, and paid time off.
Establish basic labor protections for domestic workers in all employment settings.
The National Employment Law Project (NELP) has focused much of its research on home care workers and recommends that labor protections be established to which employers can be held accountable. We believe that baseline protections should be applied across all domestic work fields in all employment settings. Recognizing that “one size will not fit all,” the baseline protections should be specific to the different fields and tailored to fill the protection gaps within federal and specific state laws that define workers’ rights and occupational safety and health protections.
Prioritize investment in enforcement of labor standards and protections for domestic workers in all employment settings.
Laws are only as strong as the enforcement infrastructure behind them. Therefore, we call for investment in systems and structures that continually monitor adherence to labor standards and protections.
Strengthen workers’ ability to organize and collectively bargain for greater accountability.
Similar to many other professions, domestic workers who are covered by a union contract are advantaged over their non-union counterparts. A national survey of unionized and non-unionized home care workers conducted in 2016 by NELP found that the union advantage for home care workers included earning higher wages (a weighted average of $2 an hour more); being more likely to receive health insurance (61 percent of unionized vs 28 percent of non-unionized); and being more likely to have paid time off (55 percent of unionized vs. 23 percent of non-unionized). We recommend that any and all barriers to domestic workers joining or forming a union or entering collective bargaining be removed.
Extend to domestic workers similar economic, educational, and social benefits extended to veterans, law enforcement officers, and teachers.
Domestic workers should be included with other esteemed workers who are eligible for social benefits including education and training grants, housingrelated assistance, access to quality health care, and discounts at private companies for cars, food, cell phones, and other essentials. For example, the Federal Housing Administration offers teachers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, and law enforcement officers assistance to purchase a home at a 50 percent discount off the list price in a designated U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development revitalization area. The Department of Veterans Affairs offers financial support to active service members, veterans and, in some cases, their dependents, for education and training that ranges from vocational and technical training, and licensing and certification tests, to undergraduate and graduate degrees.
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