Ground-breaking legislation requiring sick leave for domestic helpers passed

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Innovative legislation granting cleaners, gardeners, nannies, and other domestic workers with paid sick leave gathered unanimous votes from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, SF Chronicle reported.

Some 10, 000 workers in the said sector who are employed in San Francisco private homes will benefit from the said ground-breaking measure. Supporters said that people hired to clean, take care of the children, cook, and look after disabled seniors in private homes commonly receive low compensations. Many of them are also women and immigrants.

“I think these people have been taking care of people in San Francisco for a long time, and it’s about time we care for them,” the legislation’s co-sponsor Supervisor Myrna Melgar said. Supervisor Hillary Ronen has sponsored the measure.

According to Melgar, her parents were once part of the workforce when they immigrated from el Salvador. She said her parents could not fall ill “or else there would be no food on the table.”

California Domestic Workers Coalition executive director Kimberly Alveranga lauded the approval as “an important and historic step along the path to bringing equity and access to domestic workers.”

She said the vulnerability of domestic workers has been highlighted by the pandemic.

“If they became ill with the virus, if a family members became ill with the virus, they had no choice,” she said. “If they didn’t go to work, they didn’t get paid. They were put in an impossible situation with absolutely no economic safety net to support them. This ordinance will provide some equity so when they become ill, they can take a day to take care of themselves, children or family members.”

The “Domestic workers equal access to paid sick leave” measure becomes the answer to the problem that many workers in this sector are working for several households. It gives them convenient sick leave benefits so they could arrange their leaves from each employer.

59-year-old Marthe Garrindo who cleans and takes care of seniors for eight households in San Francisco for about seven to eight hours is among the workers who will benefit from the measure.

 “I hope word of this ordinance passing spreads across the country so other domestic workers know this is possible,” she said in Spanish.