PARK SLOPE — Four years after the state passed a landmark law protecting nannies and housekeepers, many parents still need help being good employers.
“I was as confused as anyone else,” said Park Slope mother, Gayle Kirshenbaum, of hiring a nanny for the first time. “I hadn’t clarified work terms from the beginning like I would expect from my own workplace."
After the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights — a law that gives workers the right to overtime pay, paid days off and other labor protections — passed in November 2010, people took their role as employers more seriously. Many of them wanted to be responsible employers but didn’t know how, Kirshenbaum said.
So she helped form Hand in Hand, an organization that teaches employers how to meet state standards and raise the bar.
The group recently launched an awareness campaign aimed at helping people become better bosses, and had supporters sign the Fair Care promise — a pledge to treat domestic workers well. About 120 people have signed so far, the group said.
To help people keep their pledge, Hand in Hand created an interactive checklist of responsible practices for families that employ nannies and other domestic workers, like paying a living wage, providing paid sick leave, giving petty cash for expenses and making sure any written agreements are in the language in which the worker is most comfortable.
“It was a shock when you realize how much it’s going to cost,” said Isaac Luria, a Park Slope father of two. “But you begin to think about the values you want to live by. This is much more than buying a service; this is not dry cleaning. My nanny is in my home almost every day. She has been almost a family member for the last couple of years.”
Organizers chose Park Slope because of the large number of employers in the neighborhood and their positive history of being involved with domestic workers' rights, said Hand in Hand director Danielle Faris.
Nannies in Brooklyn saw their wages, overtime pay and paid time off slightly increase between 2011 and 2013, according to data from Park Slope Parents, which publishes a survey of industry practices.
Nannies were paid an average of $15.79 per hour last year, according to the survey, compared to $15.50 in 2011. They were given an average of 19.6 paid days off in 2013, compared to 11.3 in 2011.
Of the parents surveyed, 21 percent paid overtime in 2013, up from 16 percent in 2011.
Though the campaign was launched in Park Slope, Hand in Hand plans to reach out to families citywide.