November 17, 2022

Think Tank Calls for Florida Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, Points to Lack of State and Federal Protections

**NOTE: This press release was updated on Nov. 17 to include a quote from Miami Workers Center**

New analysis reveals that Florida’s domestic workers are paid a median wage roughly 50 percent less than the median wage for all other workers

Immigrants comprise an outsized share of domestic workers, especially in Florida

ORLANDO, Fla. -Florida’s domestic workers are primarily women, immigrants, and Black and Latina, groups who have faced historical inequities in both pay and workplace protections, according to a new snapshot by Florida Policy Institute (FPI).

Domestic workers include — among others — nannies/child care providers, home care aides, and house cleaners. They are especially critical to serving Florida’s aging population.

In Hidden Labor in the Sunshine State: Protecting Florida's Domestic Workers, FPI finds that immigrants are over-represented in domestic work, especially in Florida. Three in five domestic workers in the state (60 percent) are immigrants, while immigrants comprise 26 percent of other workers in Florida. On the national level, a little over a third (35 percent) of the nation’s domestic workforce are immigrants.

The report also finds that:

  • 46 percent of domestic workers in Florida are Latina and 24 percent are Black, while Latina and Black workers account for 28 percent and 15.4 percent of all other workers, respectively.
  • More than nine in 10 domestic workers in Florida (94 percent) are women.
  • Domestic workers in the state are paid a median wage of only $11.85/hour, which is 47 percent less than the median wage for all other workers ($19.20/hour).

“Cleaning and care industry workers have borne the brunt of the pandemic, yet a large swath of these workers is without many of the protections afforded others under state and federal law,” said Sadaf Knight, CEO of FPI. “Not only does this put the livelihoods of domestic workers — who are largely women, immigrants, and Black and Latina Floridians — at risk, it also impacts households and communities throughout Florida, who rely on the crucial services these workers provide. We strongly encourage state policymakers to act on a bill of rights after soliciting input from domestic workers and grassroots organizations like Miami Workers Center.”

“COVID-19 demonstrated the sheer urgency and universal necessity of policy reforms for domestic workers — those who clean our homes and care for us and our loved ones,” said Santra Denis, executive director of Miami Workers Center. “But even with the worst of the pandemic behind us, Florida’s imminent care crisis will remain. We continue to sound the alarm alongside hundreds of our members--Black and Brown domestic workers--that the only way forward is for policies that protect providers of in-home care, including paid sick leave, basic labor protections, and pay equity, all central to our shared economic prosperity.”

In order to provide domestic workers with much-needed protections under state law, FPI urges Florida lawmakers to enact a state domestic workers bill of rights, as other states and cities have done. Specifically, the provisions in the bill of rights should:

  • Explicitly empower domestic workers by stating their organizing and bargaining rights at the state level.
  • Use inclusive definitions of “domestic work” and “domestic worker” – ones that minimize carve-outs and exemptions, like the current federal ones that let small-firms skirt discrimination laws.
  • Require that all employment agreements be in writing (English, Haitian Creole, and Spanish).
  • Set a minimum domestic worker wage above the statewide minimum wage and in line with a living wage throughout Florida.
  • Protect against wage theft by stating that all domestic workers (including live-in) are legally entitled to at least time and a half pay for hours worked over 40 hours per week, matching federal overtime protections that other employees receive.
  • Specify a minimum number of paid days off per year that employers of both full- and part-time domestic workers must provide.
  • Stipulate that employers cannot hold onto workers’ personal documents (i.e. passports, birth certificates), threaten a worker based on immigration status, or in other ways violate workers’ privacy.

FPI is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing state policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.

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