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Domestic worker bill sparks outrage from parents

6:20 PM, Sep 1, 2011   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - A bill making its way through the state legislature is supposed to protect the rights of domestic workers, but critics said it will make it tough for parents to hire a babysitter.

Assembly Bill 889, the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights was introduced by Assem. Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco). It states domestic workers, who are non-family members over the age of 18, should be entitled to get minimum wage, overtime pay, rest and meal breaks and workers compensation benefits.

Parents worry that it will end up costing them a lot of money.

Larry Merritt of Sacramento was at Southside Park watching his grandchildren. He says he does the work for free.

"I try to help my daughter out," Merritt explained. "(The bill doesn't) make sense. People really don't have money to pay like that. They're just barely making enough money to pay their bills now."

Michael Murphy, a father of three, said the measure would make it hard for him to hire a college student who's looking for some extra money.   

"We're talking about a full-time babysitter. It seems like a difficult thing to try to regulate them (getting breaks)," Murphy mused. "It's not right to put this burden on young parents."

Ammiano declined an on-camera interview to clear up what a spokesman called "misconceptions" about his bill. 

Instead he issued a statement: "the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights is not about babysitters. It's about extending the same basic labor protections that all other California workers already have to the 200,000 domestic workers who provide care to our disabled and elderly."  

State Sen. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) said he opposes the measure because it does apply to babysitters.

"Why do we have to complicate something that's so simple," LaMalfa said. "This is the kind of language we end up with when people rush to write a bill.  If they want to tighten up the legislation and have it just for professional domestic workers -- great. But right now we're still talking about babysitters being included (in this bill)."

Stay-at-home mom Cheryl Taylor said she can understand both sides of the issue.

"A babysitter might feel like they're entitled to those things, but with the cost of everything, it's just too expensive," Taylor said.

AB889 is expected to go before state lawmakers for consideration in January.

By Karen Massie, kmassie@news10.net

News10/KXTV

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