How should I determine wages?

The answers you find here are intended to serve as suggested best practices for domestic employment, and have been crafted by Hand in Hand with the National Domestic Workers Alliance. They are designed to help you take steps toward creating a mutually beneficial domestic employment relationship—and help set a framework for conversations with the domestic worker(s) you employ. Please understand that these suggested best practices may differ based on the particular domestic employment relationship and that these possible best practices do not constitute legal advice.

By paying a fair wage you are ensuring that your employee has what she needs to sustain herself and her family. You’re also doing one of the most important things you can to create a positive, long-lasting relationship with your employee. We know that it can be a challenge for some of us to align what’s fair with what we feel we can afford. But try looking once, twice, three times at your budget; consider how you might shift funds around. By offering the worker you employ the highest wage you can—by showing her how much you value her work—you are reinvesting in your own household and doing all that you can to ensure the best childcare, cleaning, or home attendant support for yourself, your home, and your family.  

Whatever wage you are paying now, we hope this gives you some guidelines as you consider if you can take a step up in the wage you provide.

Guiding principles around fair wages:

  • For housecleaner employers, a general guide for fair wages in metropolitan areas is to employ a worker for no less than three hours per visit, and to pay no less than $20/hr for that time. This amount takes into account that housecleaners often have long commutes between jobs and don’t receive most benefits.
  • For childcare providers and home attendants, in a metropolitan area, a living wage is at least $15/hr.
  • When calculating wages, consider the cost of living, and calculate what a living wage might look like in your area.
  • Provide (at least) annual cost of living (COLA) raises.
  • It is fair practice to increase a wage when responsibilities increase, for example if you have a second child.
  • If you employ a worker for very few hours per week, compensate your employee for transportation time.
  • Prepare to pay overtime pay (time and a half = 1.5 x the hourly wage) whenever your employee works over 40 hrs/week or over eight hrs/day.


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