Council Committees Set to Advance Domestic Worker Protections

Legislation rights historic wrong, puts home-based workers on par with office workers


Two D.C. Council committees are expected to vote today on legislation that would secure workplace rights for domestic workers, such as housekeepers, nannies, and home health aides, that D.C. employees who work outside of a home already have.

The Domestic Worker Employment Rights Amendment Act of 2022, would require anyone hiring a domestic worker in D.C. to provide the worker with a written contract that establishes their hours, pay, duties, and other specifics about the work being performed. The bill also ends the carve out of domestic workers from the D.C. Human Rights Act, which protects against workplace discrimination, and requires D.C. government agencies to provide template contracts and other resources to employers and workers on how to ensure safety in their workplace.

“People who work in our homes should be treated with the same dignity, respect, and basic fairness as if they did that same work outside the home,” said Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large), who introduced the legislation in March, along with eight fellow councilmembers. “This important legislation will ensure the same basic workplace rights and protections for domestic workers that almost every other worker has had for decades.”

The Government Operations and Facilities Committee, which has focused on the human rights aspects of the bill, and the Labor and Workforce Development Committee, chaired by Silverman, will both meet virtually on Friday to review and vote on updated language for the bill. With both committees likely to approve the legislation, the bill then moves to the Business and Economic Development Committee, which must also approve the bill before it can be brought before the full legislative body for action. 

The bill has received overwhelming public support. At a Labor Committee hearing in June, 83 witnesses testified in person or submitted written testimony. Many were domestic workers who told stories of feeling exploited when an employer would expect them to perform additional work for the same pay or did not pay or give benefits they had promised. Without a contract, workers said they had no recourse when these problems occured. The hearing also featured testimony from employers of domestic workers, who said they support the legislation for the dignity it provides to workers and the clarity and resources it gives to them. 

“This bill will provide significant protections to the almost 10,000 nannies, housekeepers, and home health aides working in D.C., the majority of whom are women of color,” said Silverman. “The bill has a broad range of support from employers, workers, and faith leaders, and I look forward to it coming up for a full Council vote before the end of the year.”

The hearings can be viewed online:

Read the draft committee report