California Extends Safety Related Retaliation Protection to Household Employees

Oct 13, 2020 | Domestic Workers' Rights, Household Employee Management, Labor Laws


Under a new law, household employees in California can’t be laid off for refusing to perform work in violation of safety standards under certain provisions along with other protections. Employers can face a misdemeanor and civil liability for any violations.

California law already prohibits an employee from being laid off for refusing to perform work in violation of safety standards, where the violation would create a real and apparent hazard to the employee.

Governor Newsom recently signed a bill that extends that protection to include household employees like nannies, housekeepers, personal attendants, and senior caregivers.

It is now a misdemeanor for a household employer, after receiving notice to evacuate or leave, to willfully and knowingly direct their employee to remain in, or enter, an area that is closed due to public health or safety concerns.

Previously, household workers did not have the same protections as traditional employees in California because of how an employee is defined in the state’s labor code.

The National Law Review says household employers are now prohibited from:

  • retaliating against household employees who make a complaint or report a work‐related injury
  • laying off or terminating household employees who refuse to work in violation of an occupational health and safety law that creates a “real and apparent” hazard to the employee or to fellow employees.
  • “willfully and knowingly” directing a household employee to remain in or enter an area that poses a public health or safety concern.

A household employer who violates these provisions could:

  • receive a misdemeanor
  • be subject to criminal penalties under California’s Penal Code
  • face civil liability for damages from lost wages

The legislation also applies to staffing agencies who may be considered the employer when placing household workers.

Learn more about California household employment tax, wage, and labor laws.

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