Domestic workers’ bill of rights in committee on Thursday

Thursday morning, the City Council’s Housing, Health, Energy and Workers’ Rights committee will take up the “domestic workers’ bill of rights” proposed by Council member Teresa Mosqueda.

Mosqueda’s office has collected 11 potential amendments to the draft bill, many of which are minor technical clarifications. The do make a couple of more substantive changes though:

  • Amendments 1 and 2 clarify that those who provide occasional domestic services, such as babysitting, are not covered by the ordinance, but a worker doesn’t need to have a clear “primary job” to be covered by the ordinance if she or he works multiple jobs.
  • Amendment 3 extends coverage of the ordinance to live-in domestic workers (the original draft ordinance exempted them.
  • Amendment 4 specifies that when an individual or household contracts with an agency that employs the domestic worker, the agency is solely liable for violations of the ordinance, unless the individual or household interferes in the worker’s rights.
  • An issue raised with the draft bill was the requirement to give (unpaid) rest breaks to all domestic workers, including nannies and other workers who are left alone with children all day. Amendment 6 changes the rules so that if it is “impossible or infeasible” to take a meal or rest break, then the worker must be paid for the meal or rest breaks missed.
  • Amendment 6 also specifies that domestic workers who reside or sleep as a place of employment cannot be required to work more than six consecutive days for that employer without an unpaid, 24-hour period of consecutive rest.
  • Amendment 7  adds language so that the Office of Labor Standards is required to create a sample “notice of rights and pay information” that employers may use as a model for use in fulfilling their required disclosures to their employees.

Mosqueda’s office has also posted a Q&A for employers related to meal and rest breaks, assuming the amendments pass.

None of the amendments seem particularly controversial, and the committee may simply approve them all as a single “substitute version” of the ordinance rather than voting on the individually.

Also, according to a memo published by Council members Herbold and Mosqueda, a separate bill will be introduced to ensure that domestic workers are protected by the city’s existing laws prohibiting discrimination and sexual harassment. That bill will be introduced by Herbold and run through her Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee.


  1. It sure seems like most of this is covered by existing state and federal labor and tax law. The difference being Seattle is creating a bridge to cover workers who should be employees but paid as contractors bedue to their undocumented worker status.

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