On February 16, 2023, California Assembly Member Wendy Carrillo, along with Senator Newman and Assembly Member Haney introduced Senate Bill (SB) 686, which, if passed, would increase the health and safety protections of domestic workers. Specifically, the bill “would narrow the exclusion of household domestic service from the definition of ‘employment’” within the California Labor Code, and instead “exclude only publicly funded household domestic service and family daycare homes” from the Labor Code definition of “employment.”
- SB 686 was recently introduced in the California legislature.
- If passed, the bill would expand Cal/OSHA’s jurisdiction to domestic workers.
- SB 686 would also make community-based organizations (CBO) responsible for developing education and outreach materials regarding changes to the law.
Currently, the California Labor Code and Code of Regulations impose certain requirements on employers in terms of ensuring the healthy and safe working conditions of employees but excludes household domestic service from the definition of “employment.” California’s SB 321, which Governor Gavin Newsom signed on September 27, 2021, created an advisory committee to provide recommendations regarding the health and safety of domestic workers in the home setting. In January 2023, this committee recommended that the state legislature “remove the household domestic services exclusion from the definition of employment in Part 1 (commencing with Section 6300) of Division 5 of the Labor Code.” This recommendation and the subsequent bill represents a proposed substantial expansion in the Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA’s) jurisdiction.
Changes to the Law
SB 686 would amend Section 6303(b) of the Labor Code to remove the exemption for “household domestic service” thereby expanding Cal/OSHA jurisdiction and developing a new area of enforcement. Additionally, the bill would add Section 6714 to the Labor Code directing Cal/OSHA to adopt industry guidance to assist household domestic service employers on their legal obligation under health and safety laws. If the present bill is signed by Governor Newsom, then on January 1, 2025, household domestic services employers would need to begin to comply with applicable occupational safety and health regulations such as the Injury and Illness Prevention Plan requirements, training obligations, and reporting and recordkeeping obligations.
SB 686 would also amend Section 1455 of the Labor Code to make community-based organizations (CBO) responsible for developing education and outreach materials and consulting with Cal/OSHA regarding these materials. These materials would cover health and safety standards, retaliation, and Cal/OSHA’s complaint and retaliation process. CBOs would be responsible “for all costs related to the development, printing, advertising, or distribution of the education and outreach materials,” which would need to be available in “non-English languages as may be appropriate, as determined by the applicable CBO in consultation with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health.”
The new law would also require Cal/OSHA and CBOs to meet at least quarterly “to coordinate efforts around outreach, education, and enforcement, including sharing information, in accordance with applicable privacy and confidentiality laws, which will shape and inform the overall enforcement, education, and outreach strategies of Cal/OSHA regarding the domestic work industry.
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor developments with respect to SB 553 and Cal/OSHA’s proposed workplace violence prevention regulations and will post updates on the firm’s California and Workplace Safety and Health blogs as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.