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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Babysitting Bill in Calif. Legislature Requires Payment of Workers' Comp Benefits, Rest And Meal Breaks And Paid Vacation

How will parents react when they find out they will be expected to provide workers' compensation benefits, rest and meal breaks and paid vacation time for…babysitters? Dinner and a movie night may soon become much more complicated.

Assembly Bill 889 (authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, will require these protections for all “domestic employees,” including nannies, housekeepers and caregivers.

The bill has already passed the Assembly and is quickly moving through the Senate with blanket support from the Democrat members that control both houses of the Legislature – and without the support of a single Republican member. Assuming the bill will easily clear its last couple of legislative hurdles, AB 889 will soon be on its way to the Governor's desk.

Under AB 889, household “employers” (aka “parents”) who hire a babysitter on a Friday night will be legally obligated to pay at least minimum wage to any sitter over the age of 18 (unless it is a family member), provide a substitute caregiver every two hours to cover rest and meal breaks, in addition to workers' compensation coverage, overtime pay, and a meticulously calculated timecard/paycheck.

Failure to abide by any of these provisions may result in a legal cause of action against the employer including cumulative penalties, attorneys' fees, legal costs and expenses associated with hiring expert witnesses, an unprecedented measure of legal recourse provided no other class of workers – from agricultural laborers to garment manufacturers. (On the bright side, language requiring an hour of paid vacation time for every 30 hours worked was amended out of the bill in the Senate.)

Unfortunately, the unreasonable costs and risks contained in this bill will discourage folks from hiring housekeepers, nannies and babysitters and increase the use of institutionalized care rather than allowing children, the sick or elderly to be cared for in their homes. I can't help but wonder if that is the goal of AB 889 – a terrible bill that needs to be stopped.

More information on the text and status of the bill can be accessed from my webpage at

Here's a copy of the Bill last amended on July 12, 2011:

California AB 889 Babysitter Bill 8.11

Domestic workers worry about 
AB 889

 Friday, July 01, 2011

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- A bill that would expand the rights and protections of domestic workers in California is coming under fire, ironically from some of the workers themselves.

Next week, California lawmakers will consider a bill that would guarantee overtime pay, meal and rest breaks and paid vacation for in-home care givers. But some workers worry, Assembly Bill 889 could cost them their jobs.

"I live here five days," said Dolma Tsering.

Tsering works 24 hours a day, five days a week caring for an elderly man with dementia in his Berkeley home. His care is paid for by his family. Tsering does not get paid overtime per se, but she and others who work similar shifts through an agency called Senior Helpers make more than $200 per day. With overtime pay, that salary would more than double, which Tsering says would force her client into a nursing home.

"I'm going to lose my job. Nobody can afford that much money," said Tsering.

"What it will do to the clients is it will raise the cost of their care so high, it's not going to be affordable," said Susan Grant from Senior Helpers. "The lower income will have IHHS there. The very, very wealthy will have their own employees and they don't need anybody like us. We take care of the middle class."

Assm. Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, is one of AB 889's co-sponsors.

Supporters include the Oakland-based California Domestic Workers Coalition and a group called Hand In Hand.

"We actually believe that this bill actually improves the quality of care for seniors and people with disabilities as well as employers more generally and we don't think it significantly affects affordability," said Steph St. Clair from Hand in Hand.

AB 889 has already passed the full assembly. A state senate committee is expected to take it up next week.

(Copyright ©2011 KGO-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)


  1. AB 889 specifically includes minors in its categorization of workers who would be required to be covered by health care insurance, be given lunch breaks while working, and be covered by workers' compensation insurance. Seriously, how many teenagers will be hired to cut their neighbors' grass or pet-sit or house-sit for their neighbors if this bill passes? This is an extremely poorly-crafted bill which will increase unemployment among the supposed beneficiaries.

    Like most bills, the name is the antonym of the true effect. For example, the "Patriot Act" would have our Founding Fathers rolling over in their graves. The "Clean Air Act" merely established ways for powerful corporations to exempt themselves from liability for their pollution. Any time I read a bill, I read the title and bear that in mind as I read the prose. I look for ways in which the opposite of the purported effect can be expedited by the bill's provisions. I am seldom left without numerous examples. I wish "Bill-debunking 101" was a required course in government schools.

  2. The amended Senate version is worse, in that it includes minors... therefore increasing unemployment among teens.

    QUOTES from the actual bill:

    Existing law regulates the wages, hours, and working conditions of any man, woman, and minor employed in any occupation, trade, or industry, whether compensation is measured by time, piece, or otherwise,...
    (b) California's domestic workers, which includes housekeepers, nannies, and caregivers for children, persons with disabilities, and
    the elderly, work in private households to care for the health, safety, and well-being of the most important aspects of Californians'
    lives: their families and homes.

    This bill would specially regulate the wages, hours, and working conditions of domestic work employees, as defined.