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Seattle approves new rights for nannies, house cleaners, other domestic workers

SEATTLE (AP) — Nannies, house cleaners and other domestic workers in Seattle would gain new labor protections under legislation passed by city leaders.

The City Council on Monday unanimously approved a so-called “bill of rights” that ensures domestic workers receive minimum wage, rest and meal breaks and other rights.

Eight states have passed similar legislation, including New York, Oregon and Illinois. Seattle is believed to be the first city to do so.

The ordinance would create a panel of employers and workers to come up with recommendations on wage standards, retirement and health care benefits and other issues. It would also prevent employers from keeping a worker’s personal documents.

The new rules would apply to those working in private homes, including independent contractors and part-time workers.

“Domestic workers – who are usually women and who are disproportionately immigrants and people of color – have been marginalized and left out of worker protections for decades. Tens of thousands of men and women who work tirelessly in Seattle deserve these basic rights and standards,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan.

“Building economic opportunity means protecting all workers through fair wages and fair rights. Since taking office, we’ve been working with workers and advocates because these protections are critical for our most vulnerable workers and their families. Thank you to the domestic workers, unions, worker advocates and organizations, and Councilmember Mosqueda for their leadership on protecting our workers through this proposal,” Durkan said in a news release. 

Advocates estimate there are about 33,000 domestic workers in Seattle.