Domestic work makes all other work possible.
Everyday, nearly 2.5 million domestic workers do the work of caring for our families and our homes. Domestic workers are the nannies that take care of our children, the housecleaners that bring order to our home, and the care workers that ensure that our loved ones can live with dignity and independently at home. 91.5% of domestic workers are women, mostly immigrants and women of color.
Domestic workers are skilled professionals, yet the work can be physically and emotionally demanding. Many domestic workers often work in isolation, behind closed doors and can log long hours to provide quality care for employers.
When most of our country’s labor laws, like the Fair Labor Standards Act, were drafted, domestic workers were deliberately left out. Workplace standards like a minimum wage, overtime pay, or protections against sexual harassment in the workplace are rarely extended to domestic workers, if at all.
Many domestic workers do not earn a living wage — domestic workers are three times as likely to be living in poverty as other workers. They work without access to health care, paid sick days or paid time off. Because of domestic workers’ unique workplaces — inside other people’s homes — the struggles domestic workers face are largely out of the public spotlight. Domestic workers take care of what is most important to us, yet they are often the least valued and the most vulnerable.
Care work is at the center of our communities and our family life, and a cornerstone of our economy. It’s the work that is done before any other work can be done. And our caregivers – nannies, home care workers, house cleaners, family caregivers – are the heroes who show up to do this essential work every day.
Care jobs are on track for being one of the fastest growing jobs in the next decade. While we can now access many services online, care and cleaning jobs can’t be outsourced or automated. We have an opportunity to make care jobs good jobs, with better pay, benefits and workplace protections – allowing care workers to do their best work and provide the highest quality care.
Together, we can win the protections and recognition that this vital American workforce needs!
Learn more about domestic work from the workers themselves. In our Domestic Workers Voices project, we asked five domestic workers to document their lives. These are their stories.
NDWA is building on the legacy of powerful domestic worker leaders and organizations that came before us. To learn more about this legacy, check out the interactive timeline A History of Domestic Work and Worker Organizing, created in collaboration with activist scholars from Smith College.