Guidelines for Managing Household Employees
Last updated June 2021
The National Committee on Household Employment (NCHE), before it closed its doors, developed a set of standards and a model contract for employers and their household employees. The standards and contract were formulated in hopes of making employer-employee relationships more businesslike.
The guidelines below are taken from NCHE’s Code of Standards for Household Employment, with certain modifications made to reflect current circumstances.
Wages and Hours
The hourly wage should be no lower than the minimum wage, but where the cost of living is higher than average, wages should be raised accordingly. For 2021, Washington’s minimum wage is $13.69.
Seattle has a higher minimum wage of $16.69 per hour, or $15 per hour if an employer contributes at least $2.25 per hour toward medical health insurance benefits.
Higher wages should be paid for jobs requiring previously acquired training or special skills.
Wages and paydays should be agreed upon in advance.
Gifts of clothing and/or food should not be considered part of payment.
Any hours exceeding eight hours per day or 40 hours per week should be paid at 1.5 times the hourly rate. Hours exceeding 48 hours per week should be paid at double the hourly rate.
Social Security, income, and unemployment tax: Earnings should be reported and payments made in accordance with the laws for Social Security, unemployment insurance, and income taxes.
Sick leave: Employees working one day a week in one home should receive a minimum of one day of paid sick leave a year. Full-time employees should receive a minimum of five days paid sick leave a year.
Vacations: Full-time day or live-in workers should receive at least two weeks paid vacation after one year of service.
Employees working one day a week in one home should receive one day paid vacation for each six-month period worked.
For longer service, there should be an agreed-upon increase in vacation time.
Holidays: Live-in workers should receive at least eight paid legal holidays per year.
Full-time, live-out employees should receive six holidays with pay per year.
A day worker working one day per week in one home should receive one paid legal holiday per year.
A written agreement between employer and employee should clearly define the duties of the position, including specific tasks and frequency of performance.
Time schedules should be agreed upon in advance of employment.
If an employer does not require the services of a day worker for the agreed-upon time, the employee should be notified at least one week in advance or else be compensated in full.
The employee has the responsibility of notifying the employer as soon as possible if he or she is unable to report to work.
Rest periods, meal times, phone privileges, and time off for private activities (such as religious observances or recreation for live-in employees) should be agreed upon in advance.
Appliances used for cleaning work should be efficient and safe, and should be used carefully.
Work and work relationships should be discussed periodically with the intent of improving efficiency and cooperation.
A professional working relationship should be maintained by both parties.