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Do You Employ Someone in Your Home?

By Karen B. Mariscal

On April 1, 2015, the Massachusetts Domestic Workers Bill of Rights went into effect.  Massachusetts is the fourth state in the nation to enact such a law. The bill guarantees certain protections for home workers, including 24 hours off per 7-day calendar week; meal and rest breaks; limited vacation and sick days; parental leave; legal protections (from discrimination, sexual harassment, illegal charges for food and lodging, and eviction without notice); and notice of termination. The bill does not pertain to casual babysitters.  Here are some of the key provisions:

  1. If an employee works 40 or more hours per week, she must have at least 24 consecutive hours off. If the employee agrees to work on her day of rest, she must be paid overtime for all hours worked in accordance with federal overtime law.
  2. Employers are required to keep written pay records required under existing minimum wage law.
  3. Employees are allowed to take up to eight weeks of unpaid maternity leave if they have worked full-time for the previous three months. The family must hold the employee’s job if she decides to return to work
  4. If the worker is a live-in employee and the family terminates employment without cause, the family must give written notice and either; 1) Continue letting the employee live in their home for at least 30 days, 2) Pay for comparable off-site housing, or 3) Give two weeks of severance pay to the employee. If the employee is let go for cause, the family has no housing or severance obligations.
  5. An employment contract is required if the worker works more than 16 hours a week.  

Employers were already required to pay Social Security and FICA taxes for domestic workers who made at least $1900 per year, and unemployment insurance for workers making at least $1000 per quarter.  (This adds about 10% to the cost of the employee’s salary.)  Employers must file quarterly, which takes time and effort — a service such as Homepay can help.  The new Domestic Workers Bill of Rights gives workers additional protections in the workplace, and is something all home employers should understand.

Please contact Karen Mariscal, Esq. at if you have questions about this.   

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