(October 2, 2012) The Governor has vetoed a California Chamber of Commerce-opposed bill that was an unreasonable and nonsensical measure that would have overwhelmed families with small children. The bill threatened to place children, elderly, or the disabled, in the care of a domestic worker in harm’s way.
AB 889 (Ammiano; D-San Francisco) would have provided the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) with authority to develop regulations placing onerous wage-and-hour mandates on working families.
The CalChamber argues that this mandate is unreasonable given the breadth of the definitions for a domestic work employee and domestic work employer, as well as the burden such regulations will create. The Governor agreed saying, “In the face of consequences both unknown and unintended, I find it more prudent to do the studies before considering an untested legal regime for those that work in our homes.”
The bill required the DIR to adopt regulations no later than January 2014 for “domestic work employees,” which the bill generally defined as any individual who performs “domestic work” such as housekeeping, child care, and other “household occupations.”
The adopted regulations were required to include provisions addressing overtime compensation, meal and rest periods, and sleep periods, or simply adopt the regulations set forth in Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order No. 15. As demonstrated by the overwhelming number of employment lawsuits filed on a daily basis in California, sophisticated businesses, with professional human resources staff and employment attorneys, struggle with the proper implementation of these very same onerous California-only wage-and-hour requirements.
The CalChamber expressed concern that the detrimental impact of this potential liability would either discourage any working family from retaining the services of “domestic work employees,” thereby increasing the unemployment rate in California; or force such working families to enter into the underground economy, as compliance with these requirements would simply be too costly. Either scenario would serve only to further harm California’s economy, and create additional financial hardships to families and domestic employees.
In his veto message the Governor followed the same rationale, stating that the bill raises a number of unanswered questions:
- What will be the economic and human impact on the disabled or elderly person and their family of requiring overtime, rest and meal periods for attendants who provide 24-hour care?
- What would be the additional costs and what is the financial capacity of those taking care of loved ones in the last years of life?
- Will it increase costs to the point of forcing people out of their homes and into licensed institutions?
- Will there be fewer jobs for domestic workers?
- Will the available jobs be for fewer hours?
- Will they be less flexible?
- What will be the impact of the looming federal policies in this area?
- How would the state actually enforce the new work rules in the privacy of people's homes?
The Governor’s veto message pointed out that the bill called for DIR to study the questions and “simultaneously” issue the new regulations. “In the face of consequences both unknown and unintended, I find it more prudent to do the studies before considering an untested legal regime for those that work in our homes,” the Governor wrote.
Increased State Costs
Finally, the Governor also pointed out that a drafting error left most In Home Supportive Service (IHSS) workers subject to this measure—resulting in costs to the state of more than $200 million per year. This could require cuts in wages, reduced hours of care and other reductions to those served by IHSS workers, he wrote.
Staff Contact: Jennifer Barrera