Domestic Workers Ordinance

Seattle is the first city in the United States to have a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. The Domestic Workers Ordinance provides minimum wage, rest and meal breaks, as well as protections, effective July 1, 2019.

Domestic Workers Ordinance provides protection and rights to workers. Image: Man in hat and yellow rain jacket raking leaves.
Photo by h.koppdelaney on / CC BY-ND

The Domestic Workers Ordinance (DWO), passed in July 2018, gives minimum wage, rest break, and meal break rights to domestic workers. It also creates a Domestic Workers Standards Board. The Seattle Office of Labor Standards will oversee this law.

In September 2018, the City also added civil rights for domestic workers to our City’s existing Fair Employment Practices law. Current labor standards (like Paid Sick and Safe Time) and civil rights laws provide many rights to domestic workers who are employees.

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights will oversee these protections. Both ordinances took effect on July 1, 2019.

Domestic Workers Ordinance

The Domestic Workers Ordinance covers domestic workers (both employees and independent contractors) who provide paid services to an individual or household in a private home as a nanny, house cleaner, home care worker, gardener, cook, and/or household manager.

Domestic Worker Rights – effective July 1, 2019:

1. Payment of Seattle’s minimum wage

  • Domestic workers in Seattle have the right to earn the Seattle minimum wage. At the time of writing, the minimum wage in Seattle ranges from $12.00 to $16.00 per hour. See Seattle Minimum Wage information here.

2. Provision of meal periods and rest breaks

  •  Domestic workers have the right to a 30-minute, uninterrupted meal period when they work for more than five consecutive hours for the same hiring entity.
  • Domestic workers must be allowed a paid 10-minute uninterrupted rest break for each four consecutive hours of work for the same hiring entity.
  • If a domestic worker’s work responsibilities make it impossible or infeasible to take a meal period or rest break, the hiring entity must provide additional compensation for the missed meal period or rest break.

3. Provision of a day of rest after working more than six consecutive days (live-in workers only)

  • Domestic workers who are required to work more than six consecutive days for the same hiring entity have the right to an unpaid 24-hour period of consecutive rest.

4. Retention of original documents or other personal effects

  • Hiring entities are not allowed to retain a domestic worker’s original documents or other personal effects (e.g. passport).

Domestic Workers Standards Board 

The Domestic Workers Standards Board provides a forum for hiring entities, domestic workers, worker organizations, and the public to consider, analyze, and make recommendations to the City on other possible legal protections and standards for domestic workers.

To learn more about labor standards for employees, visit the Office of Labor Standards website or call us at 206-256-5297. To learn more about civil rights for employees, visit the Seattle Office for Civil Rights’ website or call them at 206-684-4500.

Published by Causey Wright