Workplace protections for maids, nannies advance to Senate

The Associated Press /


SALEM — The Oregon House narrowly passed a bill Tuesday requiring overtime pay, meal breaks and other labor protections for housekeepers, nannies and in-home cooks.

Advocates said the legislation is needed to protect the largely female, immigrant workforce from abuses.

“The fact that these workers lack basic protections and work behind closed doors leave them extremely vulnerable to abuse and exploitation,” said Rep. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, the bill’s primary sponsor.

With a 32-28 vote, the House sent the bill to the state Senate.

Republican opponents of the bill say the legislation was well intentioned, but the language is too broad and unclear. Rep. Bill Kennemer, R-Oregon City, said employers could too easily be in violation.

Among other things, the bill would require employers to provide written notice regarding hours, wages and leave.

The bill also would protect domestic workers from verbal and physical abuse, and harassment based on gender, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or national origin.

There are about 10,000 domestic workers in Oregon, according to testimony provided by Family Forward Oregon, a group that supports the bill.