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Employment Protections for Domestic Workers


On January 12, 2024, Governor Murphy signed the new “Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights” (S723/A822) into law. Domestic workers are those who provide care for families and homes, like nannies, house cleaners, and home care workers. The overwhelming majority of domestic workers are women, and most are immigrants and women of color. Before the new law was enacted, domestic workers were not afforded the same legal protections as other workers. As a result, they were highly vulnerable to exploitation by their employers. The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights implements new protections to prevent workplace abuses and ensure fairer, safer workplaces for domestic workers.

Prior to January 12, 2024, domestic workers were not covered by New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights extends the protections of the anti-discrimination law (including disability and sexual harassment protections) to domestic workers, giving them a powerful tool to fight discrimination in the workplace. Similarly, before the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights was enacted, domestic workers in New Jersey were not afforded the protection of the state’s Wage and Hour Law. That law ensures that workers receive the minimum wage and overtime (among other things) owed to them, and it is vital in protecting workers against wage exploitation. Under the new law, domestic workers are entitled to the full protection of the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law.

Employers of immigrant domestic workers, in particular, have exercised undue control over domestic workers by confiscating identification documents, such as passports or immigration-related papers. Under the new law, employers are prohibited from keeping original copies of domestic workers’ personal documents. Moreover, when an employer first hires a domestic worker, the employer must now enter into written contracts with domestic workers so that the terms of the employment are clear upfront. The contracts cannot limit the workers’ ability to leave the job or accept other work after the job ends. The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights also requires that domestic workers have uninterrupted rest and meal breaks, and it prohibits “live-in” domestic workers from working more than six days in a row. All of these measures aim to expand the rights and protections afforded to domestic workers.

Finally, the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights requires employers to notify domestic workers of their rights. Workers who believe that their employers have violated the law may file complaints with the Wage and Hour Division of the New Jersey Department of Labor. Retaliation against workers for asserting their rights under the law is unlawful and carries additional penalties. See Domestic Workers (from the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development) for more information.