We have some good news for NYC workers as flu season begins: if you are a domestic worker—such as a nanny, housekeeper, or home health aide—you may have the right to paid sick time under the New York City Earned Sick Time Act (ESTA)! This is worth celebrating, especially since domestic workers have struggled so long to be covered under basic labor protections.
Domestic workers are treated a little differently under ESTA than other workers, so it’s important to know whether you meet the law’s definition of a “domestic worker.” You are a domestic worker under the law if you meet the following requirements:
- You work in another person’s home for someone who is not related to you.
- You have a regular schedule, even if it is part-time. For example, you are covered if you work every Monday, 8am-3pm. But you are not a “domestic worker” under this law if you only work every once in a while, with no regular schedule.
- You work in New York City for more than 80 hours in a year.
- You either:
- 1) perform domestic work such as housekeeping, cooking, or caring for a child; or
- 2) work as a companion for a sick or elderly person and you are employed directly by the household or family using your services (but note, for those employed by an agency or someone other than the family or household using your services, you might still be entitled to sick time. Call us at 212-430-5982 to check!)
If you are a covered domestic worker, you will be able to take up to two days of paid sick time after working for an employer for one year. You receive these paid sick days on the anniversary of your first day of work, and every anniversary afterwards! These paid sick days are not the same as the paid days of rest that New York State law provides under the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights—you should get up to two paid sick days and up to three paid days of rest on this same date each year.
We know that many domestic workers also have their own households to take care of, so it’s important to mention that domestic workers can use sick time for the same reasons as any other workers under ESTA: to care for themselves or a family member and for a wide range of preventive care (like going to a doctor for a check-up) or treatment for medical or mental health needs. That includes something as simple as waking up sick and needing a day to recover.
A Better Balance is eager to help domestic workers who need sick time to take care of themselves and their families! Please call our legal helpline at 212-430-5982 if you have questions about the law or problems related to the need for sick time. We can provide free confidential advice and free legal representation in English and Spanish.
The posts in our NYC Earned Sick Time Act blog series are written to assist workers and employers in understanding the NYC Earned Sick Time Act. These posts do not cover all aspects of the law. It is always advisable to consult with an attorney about your individual circumstances if you have questions or think your rights as a worker have been violated.