California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that grants permanent overtime protections to privately hired domestic workers in the state on Monday, in a victory for Filipino-American advocates who had pushed for the legislation.
"I am very thankful that SB 1015 was signed into law by Gov. Brown," Emily, 57, a Filipino caregiver who declined to give her last name, told NBC News. "With SB 1015 making AB 241's overtime provisions permanent, I don't have to work as much to get so little pay. I get more of a choice on which shifts I want to take and I now have some breathing room between bills as well as more time to also care for my own health."
The bill, SB 1015, was introduced in February by Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino Hills). It built upon existing legislation approved in 2013 known as the known as the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, which mandated overtime pay for domestic employees who work more than nine hours a day or more than 45 hours per week. The measure, however, included a sunset clause that would have led overtime protection to expire in January 2017. SB 1015 eliminates this clause.
"I thank Governor Brown for signing SB 1015, since this critically important legislation will allow domestic workers to continue receiving overtime now and into the future," Leyva said in a statement. "By eliminating the original sunset date on AB 241, SB 1015 will make sure that domestic workers in California continue to receive a fair wage with overtime for their daily hard work."
In the Asian American community, SB 1015 is particularly meaningful to the Filipino community, as a large number of the group are employed in the homecare industry, according to activists.
"[The passing of SB 1015] is really significant because it really validates the dignity of the work that [Filipinos] are doing, the proud leadership that's brought by the community that has really helped to build this movement, and build the power that we have to be able to make changes," Aquilina Soriano-Versoza, executive director of the Pilipino Workers Center, a non-profit organization in Southern California serving Filipino workers that actively advocated for the measure, told NBC News. "This will very directly affect a lot of our community members in terms of the level of compensation that they will get as caregivers by [having over time protections] permanently."
After the passing of AB 241, the Pilipino Workers Center was involved in studying how the bill affected families and workers, and contributed to one of the first reports on domestic employers. It also worked with members of its organization to file wage claims and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to enforce the 2013 measure, according to Soriano-Versoza.
Also contributing to the passage of SB 1015 was the Filipino Community Center, a Bay Area non-profit and associate member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
"With the domestic workers and caregivers we work with, the new law is very important, especially because for some of them, it's their only source of income," Marienne Cuison, the center's program manager, told NBC News. "Because of the lack of overtime protection, many have to take on multiple jobs to just make ends meet."
SB 1015 is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2017.