Babysitter Bill Causing Storm of Protest

Measure would require domestic workers to receive minimum wage, meal breaks and more

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A measure pending in the California State Senate would require nannies, housekeepers and other domestic workers be treated like any other employees. (Published Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011)

    Legislation now pending in the California State Senate would require people who employ domestic workers to not only pay them minimum wage, but also pay overtime and provide workers' compensation.

    The bill, AB 889, is being called "the Babysitter's Bill" and it is generating a storm of controversy on the Internet.

    The measure would apply to all domestic workers, including nannies, housekeepers and caregivers over the age of 18.

    Under the proposal, "domestic employees" would have to be given mandatory breaks. California Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-District 13), who co-authored the bill said the legislation would require a 10-minute break for every four hours worked, and a 30-minute meal break after five hours.

    Some critics say parents would have to employ two workers so one might mind the child while the other is on break.

    The only exceptions written into AB 889 are for family members used as babysitters or caregivers.

    What AB 889 does is close loopholes in California's current labor laws. Under existing law, people employing domestic workers are exempted from the requirement to provide workers' compensation if their employees do not work full-time. This new law would remove the exemption.

    The measure would also require employers of domestic workers to provide their employees with timecards and paychecks.

    Failure to abide with the provisions of the measure could land the employer in court since AB 889 provides for legal action to be taken against employers by domestic workers.

    NBC LA spoke to State Senator Doug LaMalfa on the phone Wednesday night.  LaMalfa said he is adamantly opposed to the bill, which he says is the last thing cash-strapped Californians can afford right now.

    "But if it can stop a little bit of the abuse that takes place in the domestic work field, that would be a good thing," said Steve Lampert, CEO of eNannySource.com.

    Lampert has been helping families to find nannies for more than a decade.  He offered some advice to those who may be concerned that the measure could be costly.

    "My advice is to calm down," Lampert said.  "Don't get upset about it.  Don't get hysterical about it.  You'll be able to work it out very well with your caregiver."

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    Correction: In an earlier version of this story, we erroneously reported breaks were required for every two hours worked. The 10-minute breaks are required for every four hours worked, said the bill's author.