August 4, 2021

Undervalued Yet Indispensable: Florida's Domestic Workforce

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Executive Summary

Florida’s domestic workers, a vital part of the state’s essential workforce who care for and provide in-home cleaning services to families, children, seniors, and people with disabilities, faced numerous barriers to fiscal stability even before the pandemic hit. These roadblocks — exacerbated by COVID-19 and the subsequent economic recession — include meager wages, unsafe and unstable working conditions, and lack of state and federal protections afforded other working people.

Florida Policy Institute (FPI) took a deeper look into this essential workforce and found the following: 

  • 55.3 percent of domestic workers are immigrants, while just 26 percent of other working Floridians are. Almost a third (30 percent) of domestic workers are undocumented, or lacking legal status to remain in the country.
  • 94 percent are women, while just 47 percent of other working Floridians are. This is on par with the national average.
  • Latina/o and Black Floridians are overrepresented in the domestic workforce. They account for 42.8 and 23.7 percent of domestic workers, respectively; however, Latina/o workers comprise 27.2 percent of Florida’s overall workforce, while Black Floridians comprise 14.8 percent.
  • Miami is home to the greatest share of the state’s domestic workforce. There are 56,000 domestic workers in the Miami-area, which is 48.1 percent of the state’s domestic workforce.
  • Latina/o and immigrant Floridians comprise a markedly higher share of domestic workers in the Miami-metro area. While 43 percent of Florida’s domestic workers are Latina/o, 62 percent of Miami-area domestic workers are. Strikingly, 84 percent of the Miami MSA’s domestic workers are immigrants, compared to 55 percent of state domestic workers who are.
  • Domestic workers are paid 40 percent less than the median wage of all other workers. Domestic workers in Florida are paid a median wage of $12.19/hour, compared to the median wage of $19.20 for other workers.

To counter this historical discrimination, Florida’s Congressional Delegation should support the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which was re-introduced on July 29, 2021. This measure would ensure that more than 115,000 working Floridians (and domestic workers nationwide):

  • receive written contracts of scheduled hours and time off, including breaks, overtime, and sick days;
  • are protected against harassment and discrimination;
  • receive sufficient termination notice (for live-in workers) and pay for client-canceled last-minute shifts;
  • can collectively bargain for improved wages and workplace conditions;
  • have access to a new National Domestic Worker Hotline and workforce training; and
  • receive increased access to retirement and health care benefits.

Importantly, the measure would protect all employees, whether undocumented or not. Alternatively, Florida policymakers could model the national legislation to create a statewide Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, as 10 other states have done over the past decade.

*Download full report to view endnotes and citations

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