[COLUMN] Proposed new law would finally extend workplace health and safety  protections to domestic workers  

Many reading this may be surprised to learn that domestic workers are not  protected by the important workplace health and safety laws applicable to other California employees. A new law recently passed by the California State Senate, the Health and  Safety for All Workers Act (SB 686) might soon change that.

When the California Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1973 established the  California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), it specifically  excluded household domestic service from the definition of employment. This exclusion  left the many homecare workers, nannies and housekeepers employed in this state  unprotected against potentially catastrophic workplace injuries. SB 686 would reverse that  exclusion for the majority of domestic workers, excepting only publicly-funded household  domestic work and family daycare homes.

SB 686 would require Cal/OSHA to identify workplace hazards specific to  domestic work. It would mandate the creation of policies and regulations to help prevent  work-related injuries and illnesses, and otherwise protect the health and safety of privately-funded household domestic workers. It would give Cal/OSHA jurisdiction to  receive complaints of employers who violate the workplace health and safety laws, as well as make it unlawful for employers to retaliate against workers who complain about  violations or otherwise advocate for their rights to a safe workplace.

SB 686 would also create an outreach and education program to promote  awareness and compliance by household employers. It would also establish a Household  Domestic Services Employment Safety and Technical Assistance Program, which would provide one-time grants and technical assistance for household employers to assist with  compliance.

On May 26, 2023, the State Senate passed SB 686, which would change the existing law so that domestic workers would finally be included in the protections of Cal/OSHA. The proposed new law is now before the California State Assembly. If it passes there, and the California Governor signs it into law, the denial of workplace safety protections to household domestic workers may become a thing of the past by January 1, 2025.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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The Law Offices of C. Joe Sayas, Jr. welcomes inquiries about this topic. All inquiries are confidential  and at no cost. You can contact the office at (818) 291-0088 or visit www.joesayaslaw.com. [For more than 

25 years, C. Joe Sayas, Jr., Esq. successfully recovered wages and other monetary damages for thousands of employees and  consumers. He was named Top Labor & Employment Attorney in California by the Daily Journal,  consistently selected as Super Lawyer by the Los Angeles Magazine, and is a past Presidential Awardee for  Outstanding Filipino Overseas.] 

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