To: Disability Benefits Insurance Carriers and Self-Insured Employers
Date: December 16, 2010
The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights was signed by Governor David A. Paterson on August 31. It took effect on November 29, and is the first law of its kind in the nation. The new law grants new rights and protections to domestic workers.
The drafters of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights stated their intention to cover part-time domestic workers with statutory disability benefits. Such benefits allow a worker suffering a disability incurred outside the course of his or her employment to receive up to $170 per week for up to 26 weeks that the employee is out of work. While the law removed an exemption for domestic workers who work less than 40 hours, it did not require employers to cover these workers if they work 30 or more days in a calendar year for that employer, nor did it provide any specific guidance as to what time period would trigger the requirement of coverage for part-time domestic workers. Without such clarification, there is no clear point in the statute when an employer of domestic workers who work less than 40 hours a week would be covered. The Board will seek to clarify this issue through legislation or, if there is no such legislation, to explore administrative action.
Until further legislative or administrative action is taken, the Workers' Compensation Board will continue to require that employers who employ a domestic worker for at least 40 hours per week obtain statutory disability benefits. Normally, those who employ domestic workers for less than 40 hours a week can voluntarily obtain coverage by purchasing a policy and submitting an application for voluntary coverage to the Chair. Because of the confusion caused by the new law, until such time that the Board issues a new Disability Benefits Bulletin on coverage for domestics, anyone who purchases a standard policy to cover part-time domestic workers will not be required to seek approval for voluntary coverage from the Chair.
If you have further questions about coverage for domestic workers, please contact the Bureau of Compliance at 1-866-298-7830.
Robert E. Beloten