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Assembly Passes Domestic Worker Bill of Rights – AB 889

Yesterday the California Assembly passed AB 889, also called the Domestic Bill of Rights.  The bill was sponsored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and co-sponsored by Assemblymembers Allen (D- Sonoma), Cedillo (D- LA), Ma (D- San Francisco), Fuentes (D-San Fernando), Monning (D- Santa Cruz) and Senator De Léon.  The bill now heads to the Senate for approval.

I represent a number of clients in the home caregiver industry – both employers and employees – and I have mixed feelings about the bill.  The bill will require homecare agencies to obtain licenses to provide in-home care.  The owners of the businesses as well as the employees must undergo criminal background checks and annual TB testing.  The employees must received two-hours of mandatory training every year in areas pertinent to their industry, and they must receive annual performance reviews that include on-site observations by the employer.  Several of my clients already conduct background checks and medical testing as well as conduct regular performance reviews, which I think just makes good business sense.  I have my doubts regarding the efficacy and efficiency of adding a layer of bureaucracy to running the business and suspect the bill will do little to stem “underground caregivers” from working with/for homeowners.

According to Assemblymember Ammino’s website:

[T]he bill seeks to remove the exclusion of domestic workers from all rights provided to all California workers under Wage Order 15. The current exemptions for domestic workers are confusing and leave well-meaning employers vulnerable to liability. AB 889 sets industry-wide standards that will help keep the industry above-ground.

I agree that the current exemptions for domestic workers are confusing and need to be revised, but I don’t think this bill helps the situation.  The bill does nothing to assist “well-meaning employers” or to fix any of the vulnerabilities they face.  I doubt the “industry-wide standards” that it sets will help keep the industry “above-ground,” and suspect it will have the opposite effect.  Assemblymember Ammino’s premise that domestic workers are excluded “from all rights provided to California workers under Wage Order 15” is simply incorrect.

If you, or someone you know, work in the in-home caregiver industry, or if you have a family member that receives care from an in-home caregiver, I highly recommend you read the bill thoroughly.  Do not rely solely on the rhetoric pronounced in various websites regarding the bill, because I have seen arguments for and against the bill that are just plain incorrect.  Like any political issue, talk about the bill with other interested parties and make an informed decision regarding whether this bill will improve the situation or make it more difficult.  Then, write to your representative expressing your opinion.  That’s what I’m going to do.

The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego
95 South Market Street, Suite 520
San Jose, CA 95113
Tel. 408-293-6341
Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman, former associate of The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego.
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