Virginia Passes Three Domestic Worker Protection Bills

Mar 11, 2021 | Domestic Workers' Rights, GTM Blog, Labor Laws

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Three Virginia domestic worker protection bills expand employment rights and workplace protections and safety for household employees.

The Virginia General Assembly recently passed three bills extending employment protections for household employees in the state.

One of the bills (SB 1310) expands worker protections to household employees by ensuring they are covered by workplace health and safety requirements as well as the Virginia Human Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, among other groups. Domestic workers are also not to be excluded from worker protection laws regarding the payment of wages.

A household employee will now be able to bring an action against their employer if they are in violation of the Virginia Human Rights Act.

“This is a huge step forward to provide stronger workers’ rights and a safer workplace for 60,000 Virginia domestic workers,” said Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond) who introduced the Senate bill.

“I understand from my own family experience how important domestic work is,” McClellan said. “We trust domestic workers to care for our loved ones in our homes, and their work allows other people to work.”

The Senate’s domestic worker protection bill, along with the House companion bill (HB 1864), await signatures from Gov. Ralph Northam.

Another bill (HB 2032) passed by lawmakers ensures domestic workers are not excluded from employee protection laws. Household employees will be able to file complaints regarding workplace safety. A portion of the original bill that would have covered household employees under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act was removed.

The group of bills is being called the Virginia Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

Virginia becomes the 10th state to pass domestic worker protection laws. The cities of Seattle and Philadelphia also have domestic workers bill of rights.

Last year, Virginia enacted a law to ensure household employees receive minimum wage.

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