Wednesday, July 24, 2024
HomenewsLawmakers in New Jersey argue that domestic workers in the state need...

Lawmakers in New Jersey argue that domestic workers in the state need their own ‘bill of rights’

On Thursday, New Jersey lawmakers moved forward with legislation that would extend the same workplace safeguards to the state’s tens of thousands of domestic workers.

The first hurdle in getting the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights Act to the governor’s desk was cleared when a partisan Senate committee endorsed the legislation.

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The bill, if passed, would mandate, among other things, that housekeepers get at least the minimum salary, protection against discrimination, and written contracts outlining their job terms.

State Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex) remarked, “They’re without rights.” Codey is the bill’s major sponsor.

They are at the very base of the food web. Honestly, it’s about time. Most of the people who care for them do it out of love and respect, but there are some who don’t.

Supporters of the legislation (S723) claim that over 50,000 people in the state work as domestic employees. They can be anything from butlers and housekeepers to gardeners and in-home carers for children, the sick, and the old.

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About one-third of New Jersey households rely on domestic helpers, according to Codey. On the other hand, “they receive some of the lowest earnings of all occupations and are typically victims of terrible working conditions, wage theft, lack of formal contracts, and irregular work schedules.”

The Republican Party has voiced concerns that the new regulations will make doing business in the state more difficult.

Senate Republican spokesperson Brad Schnure remarked, “Our members voted against the bill because of the serious concerns highlighted by the business community.”

One of the worst business climates in the country is already in New Jersey. We shouldn’t make it more difficult to hire and employ those who need work, because that would only add to the existing load.

Additionally, the bill would shield New Jersey employees from retaliation based on their immigration status, ensure a two-week termination rule for commuters and a four-week policy for those who live in the employer’s home, and mandate paid breaks and meal periods after a certain number of consecutive hours of work.

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The bill has been introduced before but never got to a vote. Before it can be delivered to Democratic Governor Phil Murphy for signature, it must first pass the state Senate and Assembly.
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