Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Labor and Industry
Safety and Health Codes Board
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6/22/20  7:13 pm
Commenter: Alexsis Rodgers, Care in Action

Support Emergency Regulations to Ensure Safe Conditions for Domestic Workers

Care in Action is the policy and advocacy home for women who care, working on behalf of more than two million domestic workers and care workers across America. Among the fastest growing sectors in our economy, domestic workers are also among the most vulnerable and undervalued. 

The coronavirus emergency has had devastating consequences for domestic workers. Many are essential workers who have continued providing care throughout the pandemic, often without access to PPE. Since the coronavirus crisis began Care in Action has been in constant communication with domestic workers about how the public health emergency is impacting them. On a scale of 1 (not concerned) to 5 (very concerned), Virginia domestic workers responded with an average of 4.4 for how concerned they were about the impact of coronavirus on them and their families.

In May, Care in Action joined several other community organizations to demand that all workers who cannot telework and must go to work have increased protections and pay. The demands included:

    • strong workplace protections, including whistleblower and employer retaliation protection. 

    • provision of PPE 

    • paid time off (sick days and family leave) after workers return to work

Care in Action strongly supports the proposed Emergency Temporary Standard/Emergency Regulation. The Governor and the Department of Labor & Industry (DOLI) should be proud of their leadership in producing this critical regulation. Virginia’s domestic workers will benefit immensely from this proposal.

  • Without a financial safety net, domestic workers may face a wrenching choice between working in unsafe conditions or losing their income. The National Domestic Workers Alliance collects information from tens of thousands of domestic workers across the country each week. As of June 10, 82% of surveyed workers said they had earned less than $300 in their best week since coronavirus started. 59% were unable to pay their rent or mortgage for June, and 53% were unsure about being able to pay for food in the next two weeks. Domestic workers simply can’t afford to lose their jobs. That is why the proposed emergency regulation is critical to ensuring domestic workers can continue to work in safe and dignified conditions. In particular, the anti-retaliation protections in the proposed emergency regulation are necessary to ensure that domestic workers can assert their right to safe working conditions without fear of reprisal.

  • Nationally, just one in five domestic workers receives health insurance through her job. Economic Policy Institute, Domestic Workers Chartbook (May 14, 2020), Therefore, preventing exposure to health risks is vitally important for these workers.

To improve the proposed emergency regulation, Care in Action urges DOLI to secure additional resources for robust outreach and education in the 10 most commonly spoken languages in Virginia. Language access is paramount to fully realize the regulation’s protections.

Virginia’s domestic workers need emergency health and safety regulations to keep them safe at work. Care in Action commends the Health and Safety Codes Board for undertaking this important work, and supports the proposed emergency regulation.

CommentID: 83363