California Democrats hope to pass “On Our Knees” to limit hotel maids’ duties

Kimberly Dvorak Kimberly Dvorak 5 Comments


The California State Assembly Labor and Employment Committee moved Senate Bill 432 “On Our Knees” one step closer to the governor’s desk. The proposed legislation is hoping to outlaw the requirement that hotel maids perform unsafe housekeeping duties like cleaning bathroom floors and making a bed without fitted sheets.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The hotel industry mounted an aggressive push back, but it failed to derail the bill as the California State Senate approved the injury-prevention bill on June 1.

According to a press release, the hospitality industry lobby has slammed the bill as another example of California’s “over legislating” and just another reason business is fleeing the bankrupt state.

Hyatt Hotels Corp. was the first large hotel chain to announce its opposition to the legislation. However, the bill’s author was not buying into any of the hotel’s regulation claims.

“The hotels change their sheet inventory frequently. There will be no added expense,” said Democratic Senator Kevin de Leόn (D-22). “All we ask is that when the hotels make their next purchase, half of the sheets be fitted. It is a minor action for them but a major benefit to employee health, safety, happiness and productivity.”

Senator de Leόn went on to describe maid duties as “degrading work” in his press release. “Hotel housekeepers frequently clean bathroom floors on their hands and knees, a degrading practice that is tolerated by too many hotel employers.”

It is de Leόn’s assertion that maid’s back-breaking work requires hotel housekeepers to regularly clean floors on their knees. “The practice, combined with the failure to provide fitted sheets like those used in homes, has led to an unacceptable rate of back and other work-related injuries.”

A study by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine (2009) by researchers from four universities and UNITE HERE, a housekeeper union, said hotel maids suffered the highest injury rates of any hotel employees.

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Comments 5

  1. The idiots are alive and well in Sacramento. Another example of legislation run amok. No wonder businesses are leaving California with this kind of overzealous pontification. Roger Roberts

  2. Claiming this bill has anything to do with having guests clean rooms is silly and misleading. The bill would create two simple workplace safety standards for hotel housekeepers because housekeeping has been documented as the most injurious job in the service sector. If you think government should set workplace safety standards to protect citizens, support the bill. If not, just say so.

  3. From the official State Assembly analysis of SB 432:

    “Writing in opposition, the California Hotel & Lodging Association (CHLA) states that there is no evidence that the use of fitted sheets will reduce injuries. They assert that there is no consensus in their industry regarding the ergonomic benefit of flat versus fitted sheets and anecdotal information from experienced housekeeping staff has told them that fitted sheets can be more strenuous to use than flat sheets.”

  4. If fitted sheets work as advertised — and the hard “on your knees” work is banned — perhaps a maid (likely to be renamed a “room prep engineer”) can make up more rooms per day.

    Gosh, then we’ll need fewer maids doing such “demeaning” work. Dirtier rooms, fewer employed.

    Brilliant! The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again.

  5. Dan, given that the injury rate in maids translates into workers’ comp costs, the lodging industry has considerable economic incentive to make sure that the workers face as few injuries as possible. The idea that a bunch of Sacramento fatheads (NONE of whom have ever run a hotel) can micromanage room cleaning is, well, fatuous.

    Take a lesson from liberal George McGovern. After leaving politics, he went into the motel business, but the business ultimately foundered and he was forced to fold. McGovern later admitted in late 1990, “I wish I had had a better sense of what it took to [meet a payroll] when I was in Washington.”

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