The California State Capitol building in Sacramento, Calif., on April 18, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Nannies, housekeepers, and other domestic workers won’t be receiving additional workplace protections in California after Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill Sept. 29 that would have applied industry labor laws to the group.
Senate Bill 686 would have included domestic workers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), such as requiring their employers to pay them overtime, provide eyewash stations, and other regulations.
Mr. Newsom said he vetoed the bill because households, who are the main employers of domestic labor, cannot be regulated the same way that businesses are. Under the bill, private households would have been required to provide eyewash stations if workers use bleach and would have faced fines of up to $15,000 for each “safety violation.”
Such measures, the governor said, would financially burden many such employers who face financial hardship themselves.
“The households that employ domestic workers include middle- and low-income families and older Californians who require daily assistance, ranging from personal care to home cleaning to childcare,” Mr. Newsom said in his veto message Saturday. “I am particularly concerned given that approximately 44% of the households that employ domestic workers are low-income themselves, that this bill creates severe cost burdens and penalties for many people who cannot afford them.”
According to the bill’s text, most domestic workers are immigrants and women of color—approximately 2 million in California—and are left out of workplace safety measures afforded to other employees across the state.
Further bolstering the bill was a June 2020 report from the UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program, which found that 85 percent of domestic workers surveyed experience injuries on the job associated with chronic pain. Many respondents, 94 percent of whom were Latino and Asian, reported continuing to work through their injuries for fear of job or financial loss, according to the study.
“Those injuries could be prevented by appropriate health and safety guidance and subsequent enforcement,” the bill’s analysis states.
Maria Elena Durazo speaks onstage at the 2019 Women's March in Los Angeles on Jan. 19, 2019. (Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Women's March Los Angeles)
Advocates promptly voiced their disappointment after the bill was shot down.
“I’m deeply disappointed that the Governor does not recognize the inherent worth and dignity of the women who care for our homes and families by vetoing SB 686,” the bill’s author Sen. Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), who authored the bill, said in a recent statement. “That measure would have ensured that domestic workers have the same occupational health and safety protections enjoyed by all other workers in California.”
The bill had over 80 supporters including University of California–Los Angeles, the California Employment Lawyers Association, and the California Immigrant Policy Center.
No opposition to the bill was recorded.
According to the legislation’s fiscal impact statement, the bill was set to cost at least $42 million annually.