In a groundbreaking and inclusive new labor law, nannies, house cleaners, gardeners and other domestic workers within San Francisco could soon qualify for and receive paid sick leave.
The Associated Press reported that “the city’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Dec. 14, unanimously passed the legislation, which the San Francisco Chronicle said is the first of its kind in the U.S.”
According to AP, “the measure would affect 10,000 people in the city who work in private homes cleaning, cooking, tending children, garden or providing non-medical care for seniors or disabled residents.”
Advocates who supported the bill’s passage said it would greatly improve the lives of many of the city’s lower-paid women and immigrants.
In a statement, city supervisor Myrna Melgar, who co-sponsored the measure with Supervisor Hillary Ronen, said, “I think these people have been taking care of people in San Francisco for a long time, and it’s about time that we care for them.”
The newly passed measure would account for domestic workers employed by multiple households. Many believe this model for paid sick leave could also be applied to other gig workers across the country in the future.
According to AP, this “portable paid sick leave benefit” would allow workers to “earn slivers of paid sick leave from each employer and then consolidate them. An employer would pay one hour of wages into the sick-leave fund for every 30 hours of service from a domestic worker.”
Before becoming official city law, the measure will require a second vote by the supervisors. It will then need to be signed by San Francisco Mayor London Breed. From there, the city would need to hire a private company to operate the benefits program, a process that could take several months.
Speaking with the San Francisco Chronicle, Kimberly Alvarenga, executive director of the California Domestic Workers Coalition, said she was thrilled the measure had passed its initial vote. Alvarenga said she was hopeful it would become official city law, especially following the uncertainty many domestic workers had faced during the pandemic of “if they didn’t go to work, they didn’t get paid.”
“If they became ill with the virus or if a family member became ill with the virus, they had no choice,” Alvarenga said. “This ordinance will provide some equity, so when they become ill, they can take a day to take care of themselves, children or family members.”