Who sould be getting minimum wages?

U.S. – Extension of minimum wages to all categories of domestic workers

In the U.S., like in many other places, the journey towards the inclusion of domestic workers in minimum wage and overtime protections has been long and complicated. Domestic workers were originally excluded when the federal minimum wage was established in the 1930s. This exclusion was an outcome of the racial interests and gendered assumptions of legislators and the trade union movement alike.

In the 1970s, the minimum wage was extended to specific categories of domestic workers (like full time nannies), while other categories remained excluded (i.e. companions to the elderly and disabled).

State-based initiatives after 2010, like those for a Bill of Rights for Domestic Workers in New York, California and Hawaii, helped to lay the groundwork for further federal legislative and regulatory changes.

In 2013, under encouragement from President Obama, the Department of Labour revised its regulations to include live-in domestic workers. The only categories that remain excluded are casual babysitters, and “companions” who provide social fellowship to elderly people and people with disabilities. However, the scope of “companions” has been significantly reduced to ensure effective coverage of workers.

As a result, domestic workers are now fully included in the federal minimum wage. The initial minimum wage for domestic workers was equal to the established federal minimum wage in effect in 2013 at $7.25 per hour. Domestic workers represent approximately 1.7 % of the total workforce.

Source: Goldberg, Harmony, 2015. The Long Journey Home: The Contested Exclusion and Inclusion of Domestic Workers from Federal Wage and Hour Protections in the United States of America, ILO Working Paper, Conditions of Work and Employment Series No.58