Nannies, house cleaners and home attendants support our communities in profound ways. They are on the frontlines of caring for some of our most vulnerable. Many of our members who are sheltering in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, are experiencing the absence of these workers from their homes and lives as they juggle all the work that domestic workers hold – caregiving for elders and childcare – along with managing the stress of these times.
Historically, the relationship between domestic workers and employers has been private – behind closed doors. The racist exclusion of domestic and farm workers from New Deal labor laws and the patriarchal devaluation of “women’s work” and care have further hidden and failed to value the contribution of this workforce in our society and economy.
During this coronavirus pandemic, let’s recognize the significant role that domestic workers play in our lives. Let’s take on fair care practices – paying fairly, providing paid time off and engaging in effective communication!
And let’s talk with our neighbors, friends and family about their work with domestic workers! One member leader from Seattle shared this letter she sent to people who also employ the same house cleaner as her, to encourage them to provide paid time off and pay even if services are disrupted. She offered to us the letter to encourage others to use!
I hope you are all keeping safe and healthy. Our family has been working with [EMPLOYEE NAME(S)] for the last three years. We value their professionalism, warmth and support they have provided our family.
In the past year I have been learning about best practices for employers of domestic workers through Hand in Hand, the sister organization of the National Domestic Workers Alliance which has been organizing to pass legislation for the rights of domestic workers.
The spread of COVID-19 has accelerated my thinking into action. [EMPLOYEE NAME(S)] do not have access to paid time off, and do not have health insurance benefits. They are also susceptible to loss of income if families pause their services.
This is what our family is doing voluntarily, and we encourage you to act similarly, or share other practices you think would be helpful: We will continue to pay our employees through the length of any disruption of their services. We will add $10 per cleaning to contribute to any funds they choose to set aside for paid time off, or healthcare benefits. These funds are at their full discretion.
We understand these are challenging times for everyone, and that many of us are still catching up with what’s being asked of us. I would be happy to get on the phone with anyone who has questions or suggestions.
Let us know if you share with other employers and if there are other resources you could use! Email us at [email protected]