The following press release was issued by Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network on October 2, 2023 after Governor Newsom announced his veto of SB686: The Health & Safety for All Workers Act.
Not in Our Name: Domestic Employers Condemn Governor Newsom’s Veto of Domestic Worker Health & Safety Bill
This weekend, Governor Newsom stood on the wrong side of history by vetoing SB 686: The Health and Safety for All Workers Act (Durazo).
SB 686 would have finally ended the exclusion of domestic workers from California’s occupational health and safety protections, extending these rights to an estimated 300,000 privately employed homecare providers, house cleaners, and nannies.
“With this veto, the Governor has chosen to leave domestic workers unprotected in their workplaces and at risk of serious injury and illness,” said Lindsay Imai Hong, California Director of Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network.
SB 686 had widespread support from the California Legislature, labor and civil rights leaders, workers and private in-home employers. “The Governor places this veto at the feet of domestic employers, claiming to protect us from onerous regulations and financial penalties. I speak for myself and employers of nannies, house cleaners, and homecare workers across the state when I say that this veto is not in our name,” said Rabbi Jim Kaufman, house cleaner and homecare employer and Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Hillel in Los Angeles.
In his veto statement, Governor Newsom claimed the bill would subject private employers to the same regulations as business. But this legislation was specifically crafted for employment within the home, and was based on the recommendations by a 2022 Cal/OSHA committee consisting of domestic workers, domestic employers and health experts. The legislation provided time for Cal/OSHA to integrate those recommendations into industry-specific guidance through their regulatory process. Ending the exclusion of domestic workers from health and safety protections is the necessary first step to beginning this process.
Domestic employers across the state are outraged that Governor Newsom uses domestic employers–especially low-income employers–as his excuse for vetoing a bill that would have benefited all employers. This bill included a technical assistance fund for low-income domestic employers. It would have provided funds to cover the costs of making their homes safer, such as purchasing masks and gloves, or for larger purchases such as Hoyer lifts for transferring wheelchair users in and out of bed. SB 686 was accompanied by a budget request for this fund for low-income employers, but Newsom himself did not include it in the 2023-2024 budget that he signed in July.
“Newsom’s use of low-income employers as his rationale for vetoing SB 686 is deceitful and despicable. His office failed to support the financial assistance for employers in the bill. In his veto statement, the Governor is using us as pawns without actually standing up for what we need, which are clear guidelines for health and safety,” said Jessica Lehman, a homecare employer who served on the Cal/OSHA advisory committee that drafted the recommendations and guidelines in 2022.
Domestic employers are already liable for any illness or injury that the worker they employ sustains on the job through workers’ compensation requirements. SB 686 would have provided the protections, education and financial assistance to prevent injury and mitigate the costs of employer liability.
“Domestic work makes all other work possible. Yet, in the eyes of Governor Newsom, it isn’t worthy of the same kind of protections and standards as all other work. Domestic employers will not be discouraged by this veto, and will continue our steadfast commitment to domestic worker rights.” said Lindsay Imai Hong, California Director of Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network.