California Domestic Workers Coalition

Lila Seidman

San Francisco has had a law on its books mandating sick pay for employees since 2006. But the city’s estimated 10,000 domestic workers — who include house cleaners, nannies and caregivers — have had a hard time taking advantage of the benefit, forcing them to work through injury or forego caring for an ill child.

They often toil behind closed doors for multiple employees, making it difficult to track and accumulate time off, according to labor activists and local lawmakers — a situation exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Soon, if a new ordinance is passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, they might not have to choose between their health and their livelihoods. Proponents say the ordinance would ensure that domestic workers can take paid sick time by creating a portable benefits system that would be the first of its kind in the U.S.