“My friends Leo and Claudia, whom we employ to clean our house, deserve protection and pay at this critical time, just like all workers. So I’m sending them a check for two months’ pay to help them stay home. I’m asking my employer friends to do the same – when we help provide paid leave we can help flatten the curve together.” – Jen Soriano, Seattle, WA
“I have already notified my housekeeper that I do not expect her to come to work while we are sheltering in place. And since this is of no fault of her own and because she relies on the income I will continue to pay her. I value her service but I value her more.” – Maria Guillen, San Francisco, CA
We are in unprecedented times. The number of cases of COVID-19 is increasing every day, and states and cities are calling on residents to isolate from their neighbors to slow the spread of the virus in order to reduce the load on our already burdened health care system.
The virus has exposed already existing inequities in our health care and economic system with increased risks for limited income and homeless community members, and low-wage service workers. The large majority of domestic workers are women, disproportionately women of color and immigrant women, and they fear exposure to the virus just as much as any of us do, but they do not have the benefits or paid sick leave to allow them to simply stay at home with ease. In the communities where people have been asked to “shelter in place,” domestic workers fear they will not be able to cover rent or buy food for their families.
While we at Hand in Hand join with other organizations to fight for paid sick leave and universal health care, right now, it is up to all of us to figure out how we can support each other.
The Pledge is about Fairness
“As their private employer, pay the person who works in your home at their full, usual rate for any missed hours. If you can’t get over the “no work, no pay” mind-set, think of it as an accrued benefit like paid leave, sick pay, or vacation days. They are probably overdue.” (Stephanie Land, Pay Your House Cleaner Anyway, NY Times, March 20, 2020)
We urge individuals and families who employ nannies, house cleaners, and home attendants to protect the rights and livelihood of this workforce by pledging to pay workers even if they are not currently working in your home. As not everyone is able to or will pay domestic workers who are home sick or sheltering in place, consider paying extra if you can.
If you can commit to paying the domestic worker you employ during the crisis, sign the pledge to help demonstrate the significance of this workforce and the need for paid sick leave.
Invite Other Domestic Employers to Pledge
It can be challenging for a domestic employer to ask for paid time off or flexibility. Hearing from a fellow employer can help many domestic employers to understand the importance of supporting domestic workers in this way. Many domestic employers simply are not thinking about it, because of the stress of this moment. Build community and invite them to join you.
Here’s a sample letter written by one of our members in Seattle that you can use.