SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Irene Maliglig spends most of her time looking out for people. She is a full-time caregiver in the City of Carson and is also the mother of two children. She’s always had a passion for taking care of people because of the culture she grew up in.
“I believe, as a Filipino, we have this trait of being hospitable, being passionate about what we’re doing,” Maligig said.
The 49-year-old understands the job is not for everyone, but she enjoys the work and is truly passionate about the job.
However, Maliglig and other caregivers throughout the state do not have anyone supporting them. Under current law, there are very few guardrails to make sure they have safe and healthy working conditions. She described having to be around exposed chemicals from cleaning products and the physical demands to care for a patient who is much bigger than her.
“As a caregiver, I am exposed to everything… whenever we get sick, we don’t know where to go. Not like the other workers when they are sick, they can go to HR for a sick leave or anything like that, but we as domestic workers — the fact that they excluded us, and they treat us as if we’re invisible,” Maliglig adds.
This is what State Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, a Democrat from Los Angeles, is hoping to change with Senate Bill 686.
“…No matter how many times it takes to the California Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom — that now, now is the time to stand on the right side of history,” Durazo said
This bill will expand CAL/OSHA protections for nannies, house cleaners and other home care workers who don’t have protections if they get sick or injured on the job.
“I believe for this right that we are fighting — it’s for the safety and health of our workplace — we have the right to be included, not excluded,” Maliglig emphasized.
Maliglig was one of the hundreds of domestic workers who traveled to Sacramento to attend a demonstration for the bill. The march and rally came days before the bill was decided on in a special suspense file hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
“Most of the domestic workers are women. We’re taking care of others — leaving our own family and yet we’re not protected at all,” Maliglig said.
Domestic workers marched from the State Capitol to the Legislative Swing Space, where they performed a demonstration of sweeping away what they called an outdated policy that excludes approximately 300,000 domestic workers from labor protections in California.
“This campaign is part of a long legacy of women of color, of immigrant women standing up for what is right,” said Maegan Ortiz, the executive director of the Institute of Popular Education of Southern California. “Domestic workers have waited long enough and we are here to send that message loud and clear throughout Sacramento.”
Durazo introduced a similar bill in 2020, however it was vetoed by Newsom, who cited concerns about treating people’s homes like workplaces.
To address the governor’s concerns, Durazo introduced a bill last year that established an advisory committee to create guidelines for the health and safety recommendations for domestic workers.
Once the advisory committee establishes the health and safety guidelines, all employers of domestic workers would have to comply with the new regulations. This is a cause for concern for Republican Sen. Brian Dahle, who voted against the bill.
“I would think this bill would actually detour people from having people do those services because of the liability in your own home,” Dahle said during a Senate floor session.
The legislation would affect the approximate 300,000 workers, many of whom were on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Durazo said it’s time for California to support this workforce.
Maliglig says the passage of SB 686 will allow her to continue her passion for helping other people.
“We give our whole hearts and we have this passion for doing this and we have this love and concern for those elderly — we treat them like our family… I definitely love my job. I just need more protections. I need to be included,” she said.
On Friday, SB 686 passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee and will be sent to the Assembly floor.