SB 686, the Health and Safety for All Workers Act would end discriminatory workplace safety exclusion |
Today, the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee voted to advance SB 686, the Health and Safety for All Workers Act, which protects the health and safety of workers and their employers by giving Cal/OSHA authority to protect California’s over 300,000 nannies, housekeepers, homecare workers and others in the home workplace.
SB 686 ends the discriminatory exclusion of domestic workers from the state’s workplace safety laws and would ensure that domestic workers have the same legal right as other workers to health and safety training and protective equipment, and to be protected from retaliation when they advocate for their own safety at work. The bill gives Cal/OSHA the authority to develop official health and safety guidance for employers and require employers to adhere to all applicable health and safety regulations.
“All California workers deserve safe workplaces, today the Legislature continued to affirm its commitment to strong worker protections,” said Evelin Alfaro. “For years, I worked in the houses of other families using toxic cleaning products that would burn my eyes and leave the taste of bleach in my throat. The smell was so strong I could not breathe and after being exposed to these chemicals for 8 to 10 hours a day, I would have a headache and feel dizzy. I had no way to know how to protect myself against these hazards and so many workers like myself are left working in inhumane conditions with no basic protections. The time has come for the devaluation of the work of immigrant women to end, we all deserve basic safety protections.”
SB 686 will also provide resources for financial assistance for low-resourced employers to implement these guidelines and to expand education and outreach programs run by community organizations.
“Workplace safety is a top priority for us in our vineyard and our home, OSHA regulations have helped us keep our vineyard employees safe but the workers that care for our home and child are left vulnerable.” said Doug Boeschen, a member of Hand in Hand: the domestic employers network. “It is easy for us to provide safety guidelines and resources to our winery employees, providing them with information on safety risks with cleaning agents and how to utilize proper PPE. We do not have those same guidelines for our nanny and house cleaners who deserve to have the information and resources they need to stay safe. SB 686 takes the critical next step to provide employers like me with the education and support we need to implement these safety guidelines, and provide our workers with guidelines that are not simply voluntary.”
SB 686 builds on the work of the SB 321 Advisory Committee who released California’s first-ever guidelines for occupational safety and health in home workplaces earlier this year. Policy recommendations made by the committee included ending the household domestic services exclusion from California labor code giving Cal/OSHA the authority needed to implement health and safety protections for the in-home workforce.
The bill’s co-sponsors include the California Employment Lawyers Association, California Immigrant Policy Center, Equal Rights Advocates and WORKSAFE.