“I am a household employer. Am I subject to OSHA?”

We were recently asked by a client whether they & their household were subject to OSHA requirements now that they had hired (in their case) a new Housekeeper. The short answer is “no.”

While we’re not legal experts, our basic understanding is that the U.S. Department of Labor is authorized under applicable federal law to develop OSHA regulations, including regulations regarding who is covered and who is not.

In particular (29 CFR 1975.6, to be exact), the OSHA regulations state that:

As a matter of policy, individuals who, in their own residences, privately employ persons for the purpose of performing for the benefit of such individuals what are commonly regarded as ordinary domestic household tasks, such as house cleaning, cooking, and caring for children, shall not be subject to the requirements of the Act with respect to such employment.

Note that this only exempts the household employer with respect to employees doing “ordinary domestic household tasks.” Employees doing other work may be covered.

Also, we always advise our clients to confirm that they have workers compensation insurance coverage, which is a legal requirement entirely separate from OSHA. Household employers most commonly get this coverage as part of their homeowners insurance. Check with your insurance agent to determine what coverage you have or may need in addition.