Domestic Workers in California Will Not Receive OSHA Protections

Posted on: October 14, 2020
In: Labor & Employment

By: Lewis Brisbois' Labor & Employment Team

Last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed Senate Bill 1257, which had been passed by the California legislature to provide protections to household domestic service workers. The bill sought to delete the household domestic services exception to Labor Code section 6303, which requires employers to comply with California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Act (Cal/OSHA) standards for working conditions. “Domestic work” is defined as services related to the care of persons in private households or maintenance of private households or their premises.

Proponents of the bill argue that OSHA protections should apply to California’s domestic workforce, which is mainly composed of women and immigrants who earn minimum wage. Governor Newsom issued a message indicating he shared the belief that domestic service employees need workplace safety protections. He noted, however, that the proposed bill would extend employer obligations under OSHA to private homeowners and renters who lack the expertise to comply with OSHA obligations, such as the requirements to establish, implement, and maintain an effective written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP), and to inform Cal/OSHA of injuries or illnesses. 

The Governor’s message also included concerns that the bill could create an unworkable situation that would raise significant policy concerns around Cal/OSHA conducting investigations in private residences. Nevertheless, Governor Newsom’s message to the legislators did indicate a willingness to consider and develop solutions in the future to protect California’s domestic workers.

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