TRR: Labor Day Special: Workman’s Comp for Babysitters

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If Californians want babysitters so they can have a night out they may have to fill out the proper state employment paperwork first. California Assembly Bill 889, known as the Domestic Work Employee Equality, Fairness, and Dignity Act, submitted by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, will require anyone employing a “domestic employee” to provide minimum wages, workmen’s compensation, rest and meal breaks and a variety of other benefits. The prospective law could apply to nannies, housekeepers, caregivers, even babysitters. House-sitters, dog-walkers and other people who provide services around the home may also be included. Given Democratic dominance in both California houses and utopian leftist Jerry Brown in the governor’s office, this latest nanny-state measure may soon be law. 

The bill provides that “domestic employees” over the age of 18 be paid at least minimum wage, and that substitutes be provided every two hours for scheduled rest and meal breaks. Employees would also be entitled to overtime pay, and those employing them would be required to maintain time cards and other paperwork to meet state reporting requirements. The proposed law explicitly defines babysitters over age 18 as “personal attendants” covered by the act. The first draft of the legislation also required an hour of paid vacation time for every 30 hours worked. This provision was deleted, but it is no more absurd than the rest of this job-killing bill. 

AB 899 is an absurd and counter-productive attempt to regulate the type of useful and informal relationships that many working people need on in an increasingly complex world. Parents and those who care for seniors in particular need a high degree of flexibility to be able to focus on their jobs and continue to provide for those who rely on them. Meetings run late, flights get delayed, traffic gets snarled, stuff happens. People need their back-up systems. Slamming these families with a bevy of new fees, record-keeping and reporting requirements is cruel and unusual punishment. And in these days of zero job growth it is absurd to make it more difficult for “domestic workers” to pick up extra jobs, either to supplement their regular incomes or just to get by. But it fits the liberal agenda of bringing every economic transaction and human relationship under state purview, regulation, and taxation. It’s no wonder people are fleeing the increasingly misnamed Golden State. Soon we will see the “twisted knee on the playset” and other work-related injury gravy trains.

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About the Author

James S. Robbins

James S. Robbins, Ph.D., former Senior Editorial Writer for Foreign Affairs, was formerly professor of international relations at the National Defense University, associate professor of international relations at the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College and special assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense under Donald Rumsfeld. Dr. Robbins is author of the recently released "This Time ...

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