What Families Need to Know about Seattle’s Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

Aug 2, 2018 | Domestic Workers' Rights, Labor Laws

Seattle's domestic workers' bill of rights

Seattle’s Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights is the first of its kind for a major U.S. city.

Labor protections have been extended to domestic workers in the city of Seattle. The Seattle City Council unanimously voted to guarantee labor rights to nannies, housekeepers, senior caregivers and other household employees becoming the first major U.S. city to pass such an ordinance. Seattle’s Domestic Workers Bill of Rights follows eight states — California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Nevada — that already have protections for household employees in place.

Here’s what you need to know about Seattle’s Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which take effect on July 1, 2019:

Minimum Wage

The city’s $15/hour minimum wage now applies to live-in employees as well as domestic workers who, in the rare case, are considered independent contractors.

Meal Break

After working for five consecutive hours, domestic workers are required to receive an uninterrupted 30-minute meal period. This is an unpaid break unless the worker is on call. Obviously, an uninterrupted break for a nanny when she is on the job is not always feasible. In cases where the employee is prevented from taking a break, they are to be paid for that 30-minute period.

Rest Period

Household employees are now required to receive a 10-minute rest period for every four hours of work. Again, it may not be possible for nannies or senior caregivers to be off duty even for a short period of time. In these cases, this period is required to be paid time for your employee.

Live-in employees can’t work more than six consecutive days without a 24-hour rest period.

Personal Documents

When completing Form I-9 to prove their identity and authorization to work in the U.S., your employee must provide documentation such as a passport, driver’s license or social security card. These documents must be returned to your employees. You should make copies of submitted documents for your records.


Au pairs and workers who are hired by a family member are not covered under Seattle’s Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

Just the Beginning

Seattle’s Domestic Workers Bill of Rights also creates a Domestic Workers Standards Board, which will make additional policy recommendations related to training, job skills, paid sick leave, workers’ compensation, hiring agreements and more.

Legislation may also be introduced as soon as this month that will make it easier for household employees to report discrimination and sexual harassment.

GTM Can Help

It can be confusing and complicated to comply with federal, state, and local tax, wage, and labor laws. Even unintentional missteps can lead to fines and penalties. Let GTM Payroll Services manage your nanny taxes, household payroll, and insurance requirements for you. We’ll help you remain legally compliant when employing someone to work in your home. Call (800) 929-9213 for a free, no-obligation consultation with a household employment expert.

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