The Bulletin

Lawmakers vote to repeal minimum wage exemption for nannies and maids

By: - February 28, 2020 5:07 pm
Virginia State Capitol

The Virginia State Capitol. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Virginia lawmakers finalized passage of legislation Friday that repeals minimum wage exemptions for domestic workers such as maids and nannies.

The advocacy group Care in Action, which advocates nationally for the workers, said Virginia is the first state in the South to adopt such protections.

“We’ve been waiting for this victory for 400 years,” Alexsis Rodgers, the group’s state director, said in a statement. “Due to the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow era laws, domestic workers were left unprotected and seen as ‘less than’ compared to other workers. Today, we let Virginia and the rest of the country know that domestic workers are valued workers and must be treated as such.”

Domestic workers are already covered by federal minimum wage laws, which mandates workers be paid $7.25 an hour, but the law means the workers will be able to file unpaid wage complaints at the state level.

It also guarantees the workers will be included in any legislation raising the minimum wage at the state level, which lawmakers are still negotiating. That’s one of the reasons Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, said she proposed the legislation as a standalone bill.

“We wanted to be sure at a minimum the domestic worker exemption went away,” she said.

The legislation does not include au pairs, who are foreign workers who come to the country through a program regulated by the federal government.

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Ned Oliver
Ned Oliver

Ned, a Lexington native, has been a fulltime journalist since 2008, beginning at The News-Gazette in Lexington, and including stints at the Berkshire Eagle, in Berkshire County, Mass., and the Times-Dispatch and Style Weekly in Richmond. He is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, in Great Barrington, Mass. He was named Virginia's outstanding journalist for 2020 by the Virginia Press Association.