What best practices apply to undocumented workers?

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.

Hand in Hand best practices apply to all domestic workers, including undocumented workers, because Hand in Hand believes that all workers deserve to be treated fairly and respectfully at their place of work, with the full labor rights and protections afforded to them, regardless of immigration status. It’s also important to know that labor laws protect all workers, including undocumented workers.

We believe that comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) would be better for employers and workers alike, and have been working with partner organizations and friends to support efforts towards CIR legislation.

To support immigration reform efforts as an employer, and find out what it could mean for domestic workers, please visit our friends at We Belong Together.

Want to support the worker you employ to become a citizen? Talk with the worker you employ about whether she would like to consider having you serve as a sponsor for a green card or help in some other way. If the worker is interested, you should talk with an immigration attorney or expert. You can also guide her to talk with a local community organization or day laborer organization that has immigration experts about her options.

Can I pay “on the books?” We know this might feel confusing, but don’t let it stop you from talking this over with the worker you employ.

Workers who are not eligible for Social Security numbers can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) using Form W-7. In this way, many undocumented workers file income tax returns. While undocumented workers are not eligible for Social Security, Medicare, unemployment, and other benefits, they may be able to claim their credits and earnings if/when they gain their legal status.

A number of organizations offer guidance and services for paying on the books.

To access resources on the legal risks of hiring an undocumented worker, click here.

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