Category: Work & Home


The Domestic Workers Ordinance: What You Need to Know

If you have work done or pay for services in or around your home, it’s important for you to know about the Seattle Domestic Workers Ordinance, which went into effect July 1, 2019. This law provides Seattle’s nannies, house cleaners, home care workers, gardeners, cooks, and household managers with:

  • Payment of Seattle’s minimum wage
  • Provision of meal periods and rest breaks
  • Provision of a day of rest after working more than six consecutive days (for live-in workers)

It’s the first municipal ordinance of its kind to create protections for domestic workers, a workforce that has long been excluded from rights and labor laws. 

At Hand in Hand, we are proud to have supported the passage of this ordinance. In our experience of working with people who hire workers to care for their children and their homes, we have found that people want to do what is right, but haven’t had an understanding of what “doing right” means. There is no Human Resources department to get advice from when you have a worker in the home. That’s why our organization provides resources we’ve developed in partnership with domestic worker organizations, like Nanny Share 101 and Basics on Childcare, to support domestic employers and engage in fair practices in their employment relationships. 

We have learned that many people who hire domestic workers do not realize how their practices have been shaped by both the historical exclusion of domestic workers from labor law protections and the deeply held cultural ideas about the value of women’s work and caregiving.

In the 1930s, domestic workers and farm workers, who in large majority were African American, were deliberately left out of New Deal era labor protections because Southern lawmakers negotiated their exclusion to extend racial oppression by the white owning class. Today, a majority of women of color and immigrant women workforce are still vulnerable to mistreatment and exploitation because of the “behind-closed-doors” nature of their work. Without laws, the work is unregulated, making it difficult for domestic workers – who like all workers – are supporting their families and livelihood in increasingly expensive cities such as Seattle. 

People who hire workers are also influenced by societal ideas about care in the home. The task of managing a household is often assumed to be informal or of lesser value, but we know this is rooted in archaic ideas about women’s work in the home. Today, if we reflect on the roles that nannies, house cleaners, and home attendants play in our lives – from ensuring that our children are cared for while parents are at work or providing support to people with disabilities to live independently in their communities – we can understand both the personal and community contribution that domestic workers make to our lives. 

Hand in Hand is a national network of employers of nannies, house cleaners and home attendants, our families and allies. Founded in 2010 by a group of domestic employers who worked side by side with domestic workers to support the passage of the New York State Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, we believe that dignified and respectful working conditions benefit workers and employers alike. We envision a future where people live in caring communities that recognize all of our interdependence. To learn more and to support our cause, please visit Hand in Hand or contact us at

Biking with Baby

Recently we reached out to families with young children in our area who are primarily using bikes for transportation. Families are using bikes for a variety of reasons, including cost, traffic, active lifestyles, environmental reasons and a passion for biking. Amanda Wanner is birth and postpartum doula at Cygnet Doula Services. Amanda uses her bike as a parent, and also…

Beyond Baby Steps: Helping others helped me feel like myself again

by Shawna Gamache Like a lot of moms, I found that surviving pregnancy and early motherhood meant that I put my own needs off as long as I could. And then I just couldn’t anymore. At a certain point, after eight years immersed in raising three young daughters, I could no longer ignore the reality that I was not my…

Beyond Baby Steps: How mama got her voice back

So how does a completely immersed mom claw herself out of the abyss of early motherhood? For me, it started with writing a book and ended with raising a hammer. Let’s start with the Book… Last November I told my family that I would be writing a novel that month. You see, every November there’s a month-long writers marathon called…

Slippers or Stilettos? A Mom’s Search for Meaning In and Out of the House

Lately I’ve been the repeated victim of the most unfortunate kind of spit-up. This is not your normal “missed the burp cloth” dab of spoiled yogurt on your shoulder, or the stream of returned milk that ends up mostly on your baby’s own outfit. Nope. Recently my six-month-old has mastered the art of projectile spit-up that completely overrides any burp…

What is the Motherhood Penalty?

At PEPS, one of the topics that comes up early in groups is Going Back to Work. Moms and dads share unique and individual reasons for this decision and whether they go back to work or stay at home. In the groups I’ve led, I know moms who love their jobs. They have great satisfaction in their work and they…