View original document

The full text on this page is automatically extracted from the file linked above and may contain errors and inconsistencies.

4, /3. J '?£<£/









5grcs q*.

Bulletin of the Women’s Bureau
No. 221



For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington 25, D. C.
Price 20 cents



Letter of Transmittal--------------------------------------------------------------------- -National Interest in Standards for Household Employment---------------------General Conditions Tending to Decrease Labor Supply-----------------------------Status
Hours and Other Working Conditions-----------------------------------------------Training Facilities and Placement Techniques-----------------------------------Economic Security-------------------------------------------------------------------------Women’s Bureau Survey of Programs in 19 Cities------------------------------------Local Organizations and their Objectives-----------------------------------------Standards------------------------------------------------------------------------------------General Community Committees’ Standards------------------------------Wages
Other Standards---- .---------------------------------------------------------Methods of Arriving at Standards--------------------------------------Obtaining Community Acceptance of Standards-------------------Chicago Household Employers’ League’s Standards--------------Unions’ Standards
Training Courses for Household Workers-----------------------------------------Household Employment Committees’ Training Programs------------Recruitment
Syracuse Program------------------------------------------------------------Cleveland Program
St. Louis Program------------------------------------------------------------Atlanta Program--------------------------------------------------------------Buffalo Household Employees’ Club--------------------------------------Philadelphia Program--------------------------------------------------------------Indianapolis Program------------------------------------------------Placement
General Community Committees’ Placement Work-----------------New York State Employment Service Placement Work-----------Harlem YWCA Placement Work-------------------------------------------Testing Program: St. Paul-Minneapolis---------------------------------------Suggestions for Household Employment Programs-------------------------------The Objectives
General Community Committees, and Employer Leagues--------------Standards
Training and Placement-------------------------------------------------------Suggestions to Public School Systems-------------------------------------------Training
Suggestions to Local Placement Bureaus---------------------------------------Suggestions to Household Employers--------------------------------------------Suggestions to Household Employees---------------------------------------------







Appendix A. New York State Employment Service________________
Job Description—Maid, General
Job Standards-—Maid, General
Agreement—Maid, General
Job Description—Laundress
Job Standards—Laundress
Appendix B. YWCA Placement Bureau, HarlemBranch____________
Application Blank
Reference Blank
Referral Card
Appendix C. Household Employment Committee of Philadelphia:
Standards for Household Employment
Appendix D. Household Employment Committee of Cincinnati:
Standards for Household Employment
Appendix E. Household Employment Committee of St. Paul-Minneapolis: Standards for Household Employment___________________
Appendix F. Household Employment Committee of Syracuse, N. Y.:
Standards for Household Employment
Appendix G. Household Employment Committee of St. Louis:
Standards for Household Employment
Appendix H. Household Employers’ League of Chicago: Standards
for Household Employment
Appendix I. Industrial Committee of YWCA, Oakland, Calif.:
Advisory Standards for Household Employment________________
Appendix J. United Domestic Workers Local No. 1348 (CIO),
Washington, D. C.:
Work Agreement
Employer Card
Member Card






United States Department of Labor,
Women’s Bureau,

Washington, December 22, 1947.
I have the honor to transmit a study of local programs affect­
ing household employment. The report brings together information
secured in 19 cities in the summer of 1946 and summarizes the objec­
tives to be sought by local programs in order to improve conditions
for both household employers and household workers.
Household employees have long been of special concern to the
Women’s Bureau because of their customary long hours of work and
general economic insecurity. During the war, employment in house­
holds dropped substantially, and many housewives turned to the
Women’s Bureau for information on whether the Government was
doing anything about this decrease, and what local communities were
doing to meet the problems of an inadequate supply of household
labor and unsatisfactory conditions for household employees. This
interest in community programs relating to household employment
has continued in the postwar period and was the stimulus for the
present study.
Field work for this study was done by Eloise Ewing and Ethel
Payne, working under the general direction of Constance Williams,
Chief of the Bureau’s Research Division.* The report was written by
Ethel Payne and Jennie Mohr.
Respectfully submitted.
Frieda S. Miller, Director.
Secretary of Labor.


Household employment is an important source of livelihood for
women. Of the approximately 2% million employed domestic
service workers in 1940, 93.8 percent or 2,100,000, were women.1
This number represents 17.6 percent of all employed women at
that time. Despite the exodus during the war, there were still
approximately 1,520,000 women household employees in April 1946.1
In the decade preceding the Second World War there was growing
interest in the problem of establishing household employment as a
desirable and respected occupation. A number of national agencies
concerned themselves with questions such as the demand for and
supply of workers, working-conditions standards, training, and place­
ment. The Women’s Bureau issued a number of bulletins on the
subject and acted as adviser to a number of interested individuals
and groups.
Among the private national agencies which concerned themselves
with conditions in the domestic service field was the National Council
on Household Employment, established in 1928, at a conference
called by the National Board of the YWCA and Government agencies.
This organization, composed of employers, specialists in domestic
science, and other individuals interested in household employment
problems, acted mainly as a center for the exchange of information
on household employment. It maintained a library on the subject,
cooperated with other organizations in promoting better conditions,
formulated standards, and carried on research activities.
The YWCA had taken an active interest in household employment
problems even earlier. In 1915 the National Board formed a com­
mission on household employment.3 Two studies were initiated at
that time and reported to the YWCA’s Fifth National Convention.
Since then, various National Industrial Assemblies of the YWCA
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics. Monthly Labor Review, August 1947, vol. 65, No. 2, p. 139.
2 Bureau of the Census. Supplement to the Monthly Report on the Labor Force. May 12,1947.
2 Wells, Dorothy P. and Biba, Carol, editors. Fair and Clear in the Homes—A Symposium on House­
hold Employment, p. 4. New York, The Woman’s Press, 1936.




have passed numerous resolutions designed to improve working con­
ditions. They have also made recommendations for improved
standards, employer-employee committees, unions, and legislative
The influence of YWCA National Board policy was reflected in
the committees organized by 64 local YW associations between 1932
and 1935 4 5 the purpose of considering questions related to house­
hold employment. Such committees frequently included represent­
atives of other civic and social agencies in the area. By the time
of the outbreak of the war, a number of cities throughout the country
had organized committees to formulate standards for improving
household employment conditions in their communities.
Other national groups which have considered specific domestic
service problems and supported remedial measures are the National
Women’s Trade Union League, the National Consumers League,
and the National League of Women Shoppers.6
The war sharply curtailed the work of these groups. Money,
time, and energies were diverted to more immediate concerns. Prac­
tically all local household committees were dissolved, and the National
Council on Household Employment disbanded in 1942.
The drawing off of household workers into war industries and
service trades was a severe handicap to American households. As
soon as the war was over, therefore, new or renewed activity to solve
the problem of household employment occurred in localities in all
parts of the country. The concern in a solution is reflected in the
numerous inquiries, reports, and complaints that are sent the Women’s
Other countries, similarly faced with a shortage of household
employees, are dealing with the problems in a variety of ways. The
National Institute of Houseworkers, for example, created by the
British Government, is developing a broad program including the
training of competent domestic workers for employment under speci­
fied regulations concerning wages and working conditions.6 The
Canadian Government, through its National Employment Service,
is currently attempting to establish a Home Aid Project which will
include provisions for wages comparable to rates in other service
industries, definite hours of work, and a short introductory course of
training under the Canadian Vocational Training Organizations.7
4 XJ. S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau. Household Employment—An Outline for Study
Groups. November 1940. p. 8. (Mimeo.)
5 Ibid., pp. 8, 9, 10, 11.
6 International Labour Office. “The War and Women’s Employment,” Part I: United Kingdom. Ch.
IV. Women in Domestic Employment. Montreal, The Office, 1946. 287 pp.
? Canada Unemployment Insurance Commission, Ottawa, Oct. 26, 1946, Employment Circular No. 28.
Home Aids.



In the United States there is no government-sponsored household
employment program. A number of significant developments, how­
ever, have been initiated by national social agencies and local commu­
nity groups. The Department of Social Education and Action,
Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church of the
United States, recently published a report on Church. Women and
Household Employment, entitled “Martha in the Modern Age.”
Designed to help raise the standards of household employment, this
report is directed primarily to women in the church study classes and
to other similar groups.
Local committees—representing many social and civic groups,
placement bureaus, and vocational and trade schools, as well as
employers and employees—that had existed before the war have
recently been reorganized; others are newly formed. By the spring
of 1946, the Women’s Bureau received information on such household
employment committees in some 20 communities, about one-half of
which had had similar committees before the war.

772323°—48----------- 2


Many factors, varying in degree of importance and influence, con­
tribute to the scarcity of labor for household employment. Perhaps
the primary reason for the present unpopularity of household employ­
ment is the higher status, shorter hours, better pay, and opportunity
for advancement which industrial jobs offer today. The increased
opportunities for vocational education and on-the-job training in
industry are an influence. In addition, potential workers are more
aware than they were formerly of alternative job opportunities.
In the past, foreign-born women, who were a large proportion of
the houseworkers, were frequently uninformed about other jobs; and
the absence of substantial immigration since the First World War
undoubtedly contributed to the current scarcity of such workers.
(In contrast, the proportion of Negro women workers among house­
hold employees, always substantial, increased8 after World War I.)
Not only did women increasingly fail to seek household work as their
first jobs, but during the war women already in household employ­
ment also left it for industrial work. Probably a large proportion of
the 400,000 domestic workers who withdrew from domestic service in
the years 1940 to 1944 accepted industrial jobs. Many of them are
reluctant to return to their former work. Of over 600 former house­
hold workers in wartime industrial jobs who were interviewed by the
Women’s Bureau, 90 percent expressed a need for postwar jobs; threefourths of these, however, preferred industrial to household work.9
A comparison of household with other fields of employment may
help to account for this attitude. Outstanding among the determin­
ing factors are the lack of status which has stigmatized household
employment, long hours and poor working conditions, the lack of
adequate training facilities and poor placement techniques, and no,
or only very inferior, protection against insecurity.

The effects of the traditional and prevalent disparagement of
household employment must be recognized. Many workers consider
8 These facts appear from a series of figures constructed with the aim of providing fairly comparable data
on domestic servants from 1910 to 1940. Included in the data were laundresses, untrained nurses, cooks,
and other workers classified in domestic and personal service, but housekeepers were excluded. Of the
group, approximately one-seventh were foreign born in 1930 compared with more than one-fifth in 1910;
nearly one-half were Negro in 1930, compared with only about one-third in 1910. (Stigler, George J., Do­
mestic Servants in the U. S., 1900-1940. National Bureau of Economic Research, Occasional Paper, No. 24,
* TJ. S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau. Wartime Shifts of Household Employees into Other
Industries. Release, March 1946. (Mimeo.)




domestic service as a last resort when efforts to secure other types of
employment fail. Many other persons, genuinely interested in house­
hold employment as an occupation, who might develop skill and find
satisfaction in it, are discouraged from entering a field so limited in the
benefits and dignity accorded it in comparison with other kinds of
work and, further, beset with petty personal humiliations.

The regularly scheduled hours prevalent in industrial work offer
a sharp contrast to the long and irregular hours characteristic of
domestic service. Many industrial establishments operate on a 40hour week, with compensatory pay for overtime. Household em­
ployment, in contrast, usually entails indefinite hours of work, sub­
ject to the convenience of the employer; rest periods and time off are
generally not free of “emergency” duties. In 1940, 25 out of 100
women household workers reported a workweek of 60 hours or more,
whereas of women reporting such hours in hotels and eating places
the proportions were 13 out of 100 and 11 out of 100, respectively.10 *
Not only are hours long, but wage rates in domestic service usually
compare unfavorably with those in other service industries. House­
hold workers before the war were the lowest paid of all employed
women in the country. The median year’s wages in 1939, for over a
million female domestic employees who worked 12 months, was $312
in cash wages excluding room and board, and about one-fourth of
the women earned less than $174, three-fourths less than $503.11
A check in May 1946 on wages offered in classified newspaper adver­
tisements of 22 cities throughout the country revealed offers as low
as $8, $10, and $12 weekly,12 even though during the war wages for
household employees rose considerably, in many areas reaching $20
to $25 a week. Impermanency of wartime pay levels is a possibility
with which the household worker is flatly faced.
In regard also to opportunities for upgrading and promotion, paid
vacations, extra pay for holiday work, and the assurance that money
earned will be paid regularly household employment suffers in com­
parison with other employment.

Opportunities for training to develop skills are frequently offered
industrial workers through vocational courses, apprenticeships, and
on-the-job training programs. At times such training is given at
10 Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Population, vol. Ill, The Labor
Force, part I, U. S. Summary, table 86.
n Ibid., table 72.
12 U. S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau. Household Employment—A Digest of Current In­
formation. September 1946. (Mimeo.)



the expense of the employer, and on paid time. In household em­
ployment, however, few such opportunities are offered; working time
is usually not allowed for training, and since usually no distinction is
made between wage rates to trained and those to untrained workers,
there is little inducement to attend training courses.
Placement techniques for household employees also generally lag
behind the practice followed in placing other types of workers. Much
progress has been made in recent years in defining the type of work
to be done in manufacturing and commercial occupations; increas­
ingly such work is fairly clearly defined, and the duties involved
and skills required for a job are known to both employer and em­
ployee. For the most part such standards do not exist for household
employment. Increasing the work load of a household employee
in reward for the swift completion of her tasks continues a frequent
practice. Duties usually are not clearly stated or defined.

Household employees do not as a rule have the protection generally
afforded other workers by laws that provide compensation for injury,
sickness, unemployment, old age, or that safeguard wage and hour
standards; nor is it customary, in the absence of legal standards, for
employers to furnish such protection voluntarily.
Although industrial workers receive workmen’s compensation in all
but one State, only three States, California, Ohio, and New York,
provide compulsory coverage of domestic employees.13 In California
coverage is compulsory only for household workers employed over 52
hours a week by one employer. In Ohio coverage is compulsory only
for employers of three or more persons. In New York the law covers
workers who are employed 48 hours or more weekly by a single em­
ployer in cities of 40,000 population or over. It should be noted
that the New York law, although termed “compulsory,” does not pro­
vide any penalty against the employer for failing to take out insurance,
as do the laws of California and Ohio. The New York law merely
entitles the household worker upon sustaining an injury to make a
claim for workmen’s compensation instead of suing in the courts, and
the State agency will try to enforce such claims against the employer.
Connecticut and New Jersey permit employers to “elect” whether
or not they will bring household workers under the law.14 *
One State,
Mississippi, has no workmen’s compensation law. The remaining
13 U. S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau, Legislation Affecting Household Employees (as o
October 1, 1947). (Mimeo.)
14 Elective coverage means that the employer has the option of either accepting or rejecting the act, but if
he rejects it and the worker brings a suit for damages, the employer cannot claim the defenses he had at com­
mon law, i. e., that the worker assumed the risk of the employment, that the injury was due to negligence
of a fellow servant, or that the worker himself was guilty of contributory negligence.



States for the most part permit voluntary coverage 15 of household
workers, though several States appear to exclude the group through
specific exemption without clear provision for voluntary coverage by
the employer.16
Household employees, therefore, generally must depend on either
their own resources or their employers’ voluntary financial assistance
when on-the-job injuries require medical attendance or rob them of
their earning capacity. Many employers are not inclined or cannot
afford to assume such a responsibility. A study in Washington, D. C.,
known as the 1940 Household Employment Report, indicates that
employers included in the study did not generally carry insurance for
compensation to injured employees. Of 447 employers answering a
question on this subject, only 8 percent stated that they had made
any accident compensation provisions for their workers.17 No infor­
mation is at hand on the extent to which employers, without insurance
or previous agreement with the employee, compensate for injuries
after they have occurred.
That household workers lack coverage by accident insurance is
particularly serious when one considers available data on the frequency
and severity of household accidents and the inability of workers to
bear the financial cost. A study of accidents in the personal service
occupations made by the Ohio Department of Industrial Relations in
1932-33 revealed that the greatest percentage occurred to women
engaged in household employment. A larger proportion of the
injuries to these women, as compared with injuries to employees in
other occupations, caused over 7 days of disability. Over 70 percent
of the women household employees incapacitated reported wages of
less than $15 weekly.18
Household employment, on the whole, also lacks planned provisions
for sick leave payments. Individual employers may continue wage
payments during the illness of their own employees, but there is no
standardized practice covering such situations. In the 1940 Washing­
ton, D. C., survey on household employment, 28 percent of the 489
employers reporting paid full wages to their workers when ill, and 6
employers paid part of the wages.
Household employees are excluded from sickness benefits in the two
States, Rhode Island and California, which provide payment for tern18 Voluntary coverage means that the employer may come under the act voluntarily but failure to do so
does not result in a loss of his common law defenses.
1° U. S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau, Legislation Affecting Household Employees (as of
October 1, 1947). (Mimeo.)
17 Women Domestic Workers in Washington, D. C., 1940. Monthly Labor Review, February 1942,
p. 352.
18 U. S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau. Old Age Insurance for Household Workers. 1947
(Bull. 220.)



porary disability to workers who are covered by unemployment
The same situation exists in relation to medical and hospital ex­
penses incurred by household employees because of illness. Again,
the employers may occasionally assume responsibility in such cases,
but only 9 percent of the 491 employees reporting in the 1940 Wash­
ington, D. C., study had received medical care for which employers
bore the total costs.19
In only one State, New York, are household workers covered by
unemployment compensation, and there only where the employer
employs four or more workers in his home for 15 days in a calendar
Under the Old Age and Survivors insurance provisions of the
Federal Security Act, household employment is entirely excluded
from the benefits provided.
Domestic employees, furthermore, are deprived of the safeguards
of wages and hours which the majority of States afford their women
industrial workers by law.21 Minimum-wage laws exist in 26 States
and the District of Columbia. While such wage laws in eight States—
California, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington,
and Wisconsin—do not exclude domestic workers from coverage, Wis­
consin is the only State in which a minimum-wage rate for domestic
employees is in effect. In Wisconsin minimum hourly rates of 45,
40, and 38 cents have been established for towns of specified population
for a workweek of 45 hours or less. Weekly rates for 45 hours or more
per week, which likewise vary with the size of the town, have also
been established.22
Although 43 States and the District of Columbia have maximumhours legislation for women, only one State, Washington, limits hours
for domestic workers. In that State a 60-hour maximum workweek,
which may be extended in cases of emergency, is in effect for both
male and female domestic workers.
U. S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau. Legislation Affecting Household Employees (as of
October 1,1947). (Mimeo.)
si Idem.
u In cities and villages with a population of 3,500 or more the minimum wage is $12 per week if board only
is furnished; $8 per week if board and lodging are furnished; in cities and villages with a population of 1,000
up to 3,500, $10.75 per week if board only is furnished and $7.25 per week if board and lodging are furnished;
elsewhere in the State, $10.25 per week if board only is furnished and $7 per week if board and lodging are


In order to obtain information on current programs relating to the
establishment of standards for household employment, the Women’s
Bureau in July and August of 1946 made a survey of such programs
then in effect in the United States. Background information was ob­
tained from a Conference on Household Employment held by the
Bureau in March 1946. At that time various aspects of the subject
were presented by specialists on legislation, training, and placement.
Representatives of a Household Employers’ League and of a Domestic
Workers’ Union discussed their organizations. Later consultations
were held with the USES and U. S. Office of Education to obtain in­
formation and suggestions and to avoid duplication of effort.
On the basis of the foregoing and data obtained from earlier work
in the field of household employment and from reports of Women’s
Bureau Regional Representatives, intensive study was planned of 19
selected cities in which active programs on standards, training, and
placement were reported.23
The cities selected for particular study varied in both size and
geographical location. According to the 1940 census, 7 had a popu­
lation between 300,000 and 500,000, 5 between 500,000 and 1,000,000,
4 over 1,000,000, and 3 of less than 300,000. Although all sections
of the country were represented except the Northwest and South­
west, one-half of the cities were situated in the Midwest.
In the 19 cities, representatives of the Women’s Bureau interviewed
members of the local committees on household employment and indi­
viduals active in various branches of the field, such as home economics
teachers, vocational school supervisors, and placement directors of
schools, USES, or other agencies. Information was sought on the
history and character of the committees, purposes for which they were
organized, types of problems they handle—whether standards, train­
ing, or placement—the effectiveness of the program, the kinds of job
orders received by placement agencies, characteristics of applicants,
and the extent to which the standards developed were met by other
local placement and training agencies. Copies of standards for house­
hold work, with explanations of how they had been developed, were
obtained whenever possible.
» The cities visited were: Akron, Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Indian­
apolis, Louisville, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York City, Oakland, Philadelphia, St. Louis, St. Paul,
Syracuse, Rochester, and Washington, D. C.




The results of these visits are summarized in this report. An
effort has been made to evaluate the objectives and procedures of the
local program and to suggest action for employers and employees. In
the appendix are given copies of statements of standards and copies
of forms used in various programs.
The programs described, while representing considerable local
activity, are far from having attained the scope and authority needed
to handle successfully the total problems of household employment.
They do not, moreover, deal with the problems of smaller cities and
towns or of rural areas. But it is hoped that describing what happened
in the 19 cities will help individuals and groups elsewhere to define
their own problems and to develop minimum standards adapted to
their situations.
The present report deals only with programs relating to the private
household employment of workers by individual employers. Other
types of programs—such as the Homemaker Services established by
social agencies, in which those agencies act as employers, sending
workers into homes that need their services—are excluded from this

In practically all 19 cities visited the same basic difficulties were
found. Employers were dissatisfied because of the continuing short­
age of household workers and the inadequacy of many of the workers
who were available, while employees were aware of the disadvantages
of household work compared with industrial occupations.
The wider implications of the problem were shown in the failure to
obtain needed help in homes particularly requiring it for children, old
or ill people, or where there were employed women whose work was
interrupted because of lack of help. Employed household workers
lacked job satisfaction and security.
Action on four fronts was considered necessary to improve this field
of employment, so that competent women would be attracted to it and
conditions satisfactory to the employer, employee, and community
prevail. The objectives generally agreed on in the communities
were: (1) Establishing standards of work and working conditions;
(2) adequate training; (3) developing scientific placement techniques;
and (4) improving the status of the employee. As the community
programs developed, it became clear that these four objectives were
closely related, and that permanent and effective programs for one of
them required development of the others. It was also apparent that a
long-range planning program was needed to deal with the problems
Various types of organizations were found in the cities surveyed to



be dealing with one or all of these problems. The most common type
of organization was the general community household employment com­
mittee, found in 12 of the 19 cities. For the most part, guidance and
leadership in the preliminary stages of organizing such committees
came from the industrial departments of the local YWCA’s. It was
realized, however, that the complications and technicalities of develop­
ing an effective program for improving existing conditions of house­
hold employment require the assistance of various groups—profes­
sional, employee, employer, and the general public. Consequently,
the committees tended to expand and take in new areas of interest.
In their more mature stages they endeavored to include individuals
trained in placement, economics, domestic science, education, social
work, and related fields, and members of church, social, and civic
groups, as well as representative employers and employees. Such
representation, found in 12 cities, insured a variety of viewpoints,
awareness of special local conditions, and a likelihood of community
support and acceptance.
In Atlanta local organization began when staff members of the
USES consulted with individuals in the State and city vocational
training departments, the Urban League, and the YWCA. These
meetings led to the formation of an Advisory Committee on Household
Employment composed of 14 members representing various additional
local groups such as the Junior League, the colored and white branches
of the YWCA, and the Department of Education.
The Greater Cleveland Committee on Household Employment was
established in October 1945 on the decision of a meeting called by the
Womanpower Committee of the War Manpower Commission.24 *
of the members of the committee had been interested in an earlier
Employment Committee organized in 1941.
Representation on the committee was of practically all groups in
the community that had a very direct or even a secondary interest in
or contribution to make to the committee’s work—social service,
public service, educational, women’s, and civic organizations, and
housewives, employers, and employees.
In Cincinnati the organization in which work on household employ­
ment was centered was the Household Training Center Board, which
had been functioning for many years. Widespread interest and cooper­
24 The Greater Cleveland Committee included representatives of the following groups: Business and Pro­
fessional Women’s Clubs, Cleveland Council of Churches, College Club, Consumers League, Family Service
Association, Federation of Catholic Women’s Clubs, Federation of Jewish Women, Federation of Women’s
Clubs, Flora Stone Mather Alumnae, Garden Clubs, Institute of Family Service, Jane Addams Vocational
School, Junior League, League of Women Voters, Occupational Planning Committee, Personnel Women,
Rocky River Women’s Club, Smith Club, Urban League, USES, Domestic Service Unit, Vocational Guid­
ance Bureau, Womanpower Committee of the War Manpower Commission, Women’s City Club, YWCA
Industrial Division. Other housewives, employers, and employees, not representatives of organizations,
were invited on the Committee.
772323°—48------------ 3



ation were maintained through the unofficial representation on the
board 25 of public, social service, civic, and other agencies, and private
individuals in Cincinnati.
Other types of committees than the general community committees
were those definitely representing a special interest or approach, for
example, the Household Employers’ League of Chicago, composed
entirely of employers. Others were unions or clubs of employees
only, such as the active Domestic Workers’ Union in Washington,
D. C. In addition to such groups, separate agencies and individuals
specializing in some branch of household employment also were
developing techniques and methods designed to improve practices in
their own special fields, usually in training or placement.
The work of the committees included consideration of standards,
training, placement, and status, but attention concentrated mainly on
the formulation of standards for working conditions. These stand­
ards, however, in turn often affect placement and training techniques
and aid in the improvement of status.
General Community Committees’ Standards

The 12 general community committees which were found among the
19 cities all recognized the need for a common base for employers and
employees on which to establish agreement with respect to conditions
of employment and the value to the community in having such stand­
ards widely accepted. At the time of the survey six26 of these
committees had formulated standards, four more 27 had developed
tentative standards, and two 28 were currently working on this ques­
Wages.—All the general community committees accepted the basic
principle that standards of wages and other working conditions must
be established for household employment in the same way that stand­
ards have been established in other types of employment. The com­
parability, in many respects, of household employment to occupations
in the service industries was noted.
United States Employment Service placement supervisors were
consulted by most of these committees concerning wage rates being
paid in the service industries as well as the rates currently offered
26 These agencies were the Adult Education Council, American Association of University Women, Board
of Education Department of Guidance and the Vocational High School, Department of Welfare Division
of Aid to Dependent Children, Junior League, League of Women Voters, USES, University of Cincinnati,
School of Household Administration, Women’s City Club, Women’s Club, YWCA Board Industrial De­
partment, and YWCA West Side Branch (Negro) and housewives, employers, and employees not repre­
senting organizations.
28 Syracuse, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Oakland.
27 Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Atlanta. (A copy of the formulation of standards finally adopted
for Philadelphia has since been received and is included in the appendix.)
*8 New York, Rochester.



household employees. The Syracuse, N. Y., committee in addition
conducted a wage study, using the New York State Cost of Living
Study as a guide in arriving at suitable wage rate standards. As a
result, wages proposed usually matched those offered locally for serv­
ice jobs demanding comparable skills. No two of the wage recom­
mendations made by the six committees which had formally adopted
standards were the same. The Minneapolis and St. Paul committees
suggested a $10 minimum for the semiskilled resident worker on a 54hour week, and Syracuse suggested $15 for a 50-hour weekly resident
beginner. The highest weekly wage, $31.20 for skilled workers who
live in and work 48 hours per week, was proposed by the Cincinnati
In recognition of the preference for day and part-time work on
the part of many workers, hourly and part-time rates were also es­
tablished. Hourly rates showed less divergency than weekly rates.
Both Syracuse and Chicago agreed that 75 cents an hour should be
paid the experienced responsible worker, while rates in Cincinnati
ranged from 45 cents hourly for the unskilled to 65 cents hourly for
the skilled.
Hours.—The committees were unanimous in recognizing the need
to define the workweek strictly in terms of regular working hours,
distribution of hours, daily reporting and dismissal times, and the
measurement of “hours on call.” Usually 2 “hours on call,” when
the worker was not performing household tasks but was available for
answering the telephone and for emergencies, were considered as the
equivalent of one actual working hour.
Five of the six committees establishing hours suggested 50 to 54
hours as the normal workweek for the resident worker. Cincinnati
alone advocated a 48-hour week for resident employees. Either com­
pensatory time off or extra pay was recommended for overtime.
Only one city restricted the length of overtime. Syracuse limited
overtime to 12 hours weekly, which would result in a maximum 62-hour
Other Standards.—Standards generally covered also the length and
frequency of a vacation period, holidays, absences due to illness, and
the provision of suitable quarters, food, and home privileges for
resident workers. The written agreements, also suggested by prac­
tically all committees, included, in addition, accurate job descriptions
and regulations concerning termination notices and health examina­
Certain special recommendations should be mentioned. The St.
Louis, Syracuse, and Cincinnati committees recommended periodic
re-evaluation of the job and of the worker with a view to wage in­
creases. The Cincinnati standards recognized the principle of



higher pay for greater skills by setting different rates for skilled,
semiskilled, and unskilled work. The Minneapolis-St. Paul commit­
tee furnished definitions of “skilled” and “unskilled” worker. The
Syracuse standards suggested the use of the term “household assist­
ant” or “aid” in preference to “maid” or “servant.”
Methods of Arriving at Standards.—Cincinnati and Cleveland offer
good examples of two effective methods used in arriving at stand­
ards. Before finally adopting its standards, the Cincinnati committee
discussed them with a number of outside groups. The opinion of em­
ployee members of the Industrial Girls Club of the YWCA was re­
quested on specific questions through questionnaires and discussion.
The committee also obtained reaction to the proposed standards from
the household training class which was organized under committee
sponsorship in one of the public high schools. Samples of standards
in operation in other cities were studied. Final recommendations
were based on the suggestions of all these groups and were endorsed
by the industrial committee of the local YWCA. All these ap­
proaches helped greatly in making the standards realistic and in
promoting their general acceptance.
The Cleveland committee was in the process of conducting a pre­
testing experiment that represented a significant attempt to develop
sound and practical standards. Ten employer-employee units in this
city were testing the tentative recommendations developed by the
committee. On the basis of the experience and reactions of this select
group, standards were to be revised and reviewed prior to their final
adoption and general distribution.
Obtaining Community Acceptance of Standards.—After standards
have been agreed to, the problem of gaining community acceptance
must be faced. Committees have used mainly two methods. Some
formed employers’ leagues as subsidiaries of the committees, and
others used effective publicity and promotion. The St. Louis com­
mittee established a league of employers, and at the time of the survey
the Cleveland and Atlanta committees were contemplating the for­
mation of similar leagues. Membership in leagues of this type was
voluntary. Yearly dues were charged to finance the work of the
leagues. Members were pledged to abide by the standards program
as outlined by the household employment committee from which the
league stemmed. The emergence of employer groups formed primar­
ily to put standards into operation assured some public support and
assistance for the standards developed by the committee.
The second method, the effective use of publicity, included panel
discussions and forums, teas, radio programs, and newspaper feature
articles. The Syracuse committee, however, attempted more directly
to obtain the cooperation and understanding of women’s organiza­



tions. Speakers for any social agency, group, or club were made
available by the committee to all community women’s organizations
that indicated an interest in the subject of standards for household
Chicago Household Employers’ League’s Standards.—In Chicago the
initiative for developing household employment programs was taken
by an employers’ organization rather than by a general community
organization. This organization was established late in 1944 to
“attract competent women into household employment by establish­
ing standards which will compete with industry in the postwar labor
market.” Dues were fixed at $5 yearly.
The league established a set of minimum standards on wages, hours,
and vacations for resident and nonresident workers, for general
household, day, and part-time workers, and for specialists. Hours
recommended were 50 per week for resident and 44 for nonresident
workers. Overtime was limited to 10 hours weekly, and time-on-call
was to be paid for with 2 hours on call counted as 1 hour of working
time. (Standards are reported in full in the appendix, p. 65.)
League standards applied to employer members who secured experi­
enced household assistance through the YWCA placement office.
At the time of the survey nine members of the Chicago league were
employing household workers in accordance with recommendations
of the league.
Unions’ Standards.—The growth of household workers’ unions has
been slow and limited. The isolation of the average domestic em­
ployee and the difficulty of securing mutually convenient meeting
dates make unionization difficult. Nevertheless, workers had or­
ganized themselves into unions in three of the cities visited: Louis­
ville, Ky., New York City, and Washington, D. C.
Most successful of the unions was the Household Domestic Worker’s
Union, a CIO affiliate, in Washington, D. C. As hours, wages, and
working-conditions standards were higher in this city during the war
than is usual for this occupation, 33 women household employees, the
majority of whom were Negroes, formed a union in 1942 to maintain
and protect the gains made during the war emergency. They be­
lieved also that discriminatory practices, such as paying Negro
workers less and requiring long hours of them, could be abolished
through union contracts covering both white and colored workers.
Further, as organized workers they could act more effectively to obtain
coverage of legislation favorable to workers, such as the old-age and
survivors-insurance benefits of the Social Security Act and unemploy­
ment and workmen’s compensation.
The union concentrated its attention and energy on the develop­
ment of wages’ and hours’ standards for beginners and for experienced



workers. Rates for day work, part-time work, and overtime were
set. (See copy of work agreement, appendix, p. 68.)

It was agreed by those dealing with the problem that any house­
hold employment program for establishing standards must take into
account the need for training of both employers and workers. An
understanding of the value of good standards and of what constitute
reasonable requirements for performance of duties and the ability
to organize and manage a household efficiently are essential goals
for the training of employers. Equally essential for employees is
training to equip them to perform their tasks in an efficient and skill­
ful manner. The success of any household employment program
rests ultimately on good job performance.
Despite this general conviction, few groups were able to afford
the time and the energy necessary for training projects. At the time
of the survey, no projects for training employers had been begun,
and training activities for employees had been undertaken by only
5 of the 12 general community committees: Syracuse, St. Louis,
Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Atlanta' In 3 other cities—Buffalo,
Philadelphia, and Indianapolis—training projects for workers were
instituted by the YWCA Household Club, the Institute on House­
hold Occupation, and the secretary of a community center, respectively.
Household Employment Committees' Training Programs

In the five cities in which the general community committees under­
took training programs, these committees worked with local educa­
tional systems to introduce household training courses for workers
and cooperated in the program. Several committees gave financial
and material assistance for carrying out the training program.
Recruitment.—The previous failure of such courses to attract
registrants was mentioned by practically all vocational and educational
directors who were consulted by the committees. Consequently, the
committees in these five centers usually assumed some responsibility
for recruitment.
The most thorough effort at recruitment was made by the Cleveland
committee. Letters were sent to a number of people whose names
were obtained from the unemployment compensation files and to
women who had previously expressed an interest in training for house­
hold employment. Committee members also interviewed job ap­
plicants reporting to the Service Section of the USES office. Sixtyseven persons indicated a desire to register for training. Only 23,
however, actually enrolled, and 16 completed the course.
Another method of recruiting was employed by the Cincinnati



committee. Since most household workers in this city were Negroes,
efforts were directed primarily toward recruiting Negro women.
Letters were written and recruiting dodgers were circulated in the
schools in the Negro district. Invitations to attend the course,
addressed to mothers and sisters and requesting a reply, were copied
by the children in regular classes during the day. Eighteen students,
of whom 14 were interested in having household employment, enrolled
in the course offered in this district. In contrast, of the 31 registrants
in the white residential section, none planned to use their training
Syracuse Program.—In this city a specialist in domestic science,
several employers on the committee, and four employees invited by
the committee consulted with the superintendent of schools on the
content of a training course. Their aim was to obtain training on a
level comparable to that of other business and vocational courses
offered by the Syracuse adult education extension division.
Cleveland Program.—The Cleveland subcommittee on training
helped to plan a 60-hour course given in the summer of 1946 under the
auspices of the Board of Education. The course covered basic
information and skills. Cooking was included in each session and 1
week was devoted to each type of meal—breakfast, luncheon, and
dinner. Table setting, general housework, cooking and serving for
invalids, care of children, cleaning, and laundering were other
subjects taught. Sessions were held in the school building, but com­
mittee members arranged for classes to meet in their homes to demon­
strate the over-all care of a home and the scheduling and timing of
tasks. Course content was designed to give workers training in the
performance of actual jobs in the average household in the community.
Committee members in Cleveland lent household furnishings not
available at the school, such as silver and linen. The committee
paid for food and incidentals used in the course and for the employ­
ment of an extra teacher requested by them for the summer course.
They also transported students to and from sessions meeting outside
the school building, thus enabling the students to attend sessions in
homes in various parts of the city without extra cost for carfare.
St. Louis Program.—The St. Louis committee sponsored a training
course for household workers which provided that employees of
committee members or of others subscribing to the committee's
standards should be released on employers’ time to attend classes.
Thus they overcame the frequently encountered obstacles to training
such as lack of time while on the job and financial inability to stop
work in order to attend classes. The tendency of employers to dis­
regard any obligation to recognize increased skill by increasing wages
was countered by a provision that workers were to receive a minimum



wage of $18 weekly during the training period and an increase to
a $20 weekly minimum on completion of the course. The course
consisted of 2-hour sessions twice weekly for a period of 8 weeks.
Segregation of schools in St. Louis required that the course be given
in two sections. Twenty-two Negro women, 16 of whom were cur­
rently employed, registered for one section. Because of insufficient
registration the course for white women had not yet begun at the
time of the survey.
Atlanta Program.—The Atlanta training program—the first after
the war which was an attempt to deal with household employment on
a community basis—furnishes a valuable example to committees
planning similar projects.
Prewar Atlanta Program.—Interest in training workers for house­
hold employment had been continuous since the 1930’s, when the
Training School for Domestic Service was organized as a department
of the Colored Division of the Community Employment Service.
An agency of the Community Chest, it was financed by a grant from
the Rosenwald Foundation, matched by funds from the Community
Employment Service Federal Aid for Vocational Training, the USES,
and the State Vocational Board. It had an advisory committee of
Negro and white businessmen, educators, and social workers. The
executive secretary of the Community Employment Service was the
director of the school.
A nine-room duplex bungalow served as a practice house. Courses
were of 6 weeks duration and the school day lasted from 8:30 a. m.
to 5 p. m. daily. Students who were employed and could not attend
full-time were permitted to attend part-time.
Courses included plain, fancy, and invalid cooking, serving, house­
cleaning, laundering, sewing, and mending. A special course in
child care was given with the cooperation of the city health depart­
ment which furnished a trained nurse as instructor twice weekly.
In addition to this practical instruction, there were lectures and dis­
cussions covering professional ethics, personal hygiene, behavior on
the job, proper dress, and the like.
A physician was employed by the school to give free medical exami­
nations to the students. A health certificate was given each student,
which, with the diploma granted on completion of the course of study,
aided the worker in obtaining a position. The Community Employ­
ment Service sought to obtain suitable employment for those who had
satisfactorily completed the course.
In 1940 the program was taken over by the National Youth Adminis­
tration. The school continued to function under the auspices of this
agency until 1942, when the NYA was disbanded.
Postwar Atlanta Program.-—Public interest in the household em­



ployment problem was not entirely lost during the war period. At
the close of the war, the Urban League Committee on Household
Employment, which in particular had maintained an interest, met
with representatives of the USES, State and city departments of
vocational training, and the YWCA to form a new advisory committee
on household employment.
This committee, at the time of the survey, was made up of 14
members representing varied community interests. The committee
sponsored a training course which ran for 6 weeks. Nineteen students
were enrolled, of whom 11 completed the work. Classes were held
in a demonstration room of a utility company. The teachers were
paid from school funds for vocational training and were supervised
by the head of the homemaking division of the public schools. Stores
contributed groceries for this short-term class. Other supplies and
equipment were furnished by the schools and the members of the
advisory committee.
In evaluating the results, certain requirements of such a training
course were recognized. One was the need for housing and facilities
that approximated home conditions, which the course had lacked.
Another was proper screening of applicants for enrollment: students
should be adapted to the work and should take the course with the
expectation of entering the occupation after the course’s completion.
Certificates stating clearly what skills were satisfactorily mastered
should be awarded at the end of the training period. These proce­
dures would help to build up the status of the course as well as of the
student and would be some measure of guarantee of reliability and
The need for improving educational opportunities, especially for
Negroes, was recognized, and the desirability pointed out of a trade
high school; this should provide training courses for adults, including
one for household employment.
A subcommittee of the advisory committee, meeting with house­
hold employee members of the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA clubs devel­
oped the Atlanta standards program. The standards, although not
formally adopted, were used for guidance in the placement of trainees
and in the personnel policies in homes of league members.
Buffalo Household Employees’ Club

In Buffalo, where no general committee was functioning, members
of the Household Employees’ Club of the YWCA decided to organize
a training course for other domestic workers, on the assumption that
employers would accept and adopt standards for working conditions
more readily if they could be assured of trained workers. The
course was planned to be practical and realistic and to equip a worker
772323°—48----------- 4



for the varied duties she would be expected to perform on the job.
Six women applied for the course.
The YWCA offered free use of a small kitchenette, a small dining
room, and a parlor. The club members giving the course furnished
notebooks to the students; standard books on household arts, par­
ticularly on scheduling and work organization, were purchased for
library reference.
Classes, which were devoted to practical demonstrations rather
than to theoretical discussion, met one afternoon a week for 10
weeks. Dinner preparation and serving, general household cleaning
methods, and work simplification were topics covered. Manufac­
turers of mechanical and electrical household equipment were con­
sulted for information on newest products and methods for house­
hold work. One meeting, at which committee members acted as job
applicants, was devoted to the technique of the interview. A tea
was also held at the YWCA, to which committee members were
The students were charged no fees. Six or eight guests, invited to
the meal prepared and served at each class session, paid a nominal
sum. Expenses not met by this method were paid by the club mem­
bers themselves.
Unfortunately no placement program was undertaken and the
club could not insure that the standards set for these workers would
be accepted by their employers. All six graduates of the course,
however, intended to work in household employment.
Philadelphia Program

Prior to the war Philadelphia had an outstanding training program
for household employees. The Philadelphia Institute on Household
Occupations had been organized and was guided by local women. It
was subsidized by grants from special funds, individual contributions,
and the board of public education which provided the training staff.
It was pointing the way to a solution of some of the problems in
household employment when the defense program and the war
diverted its potential trainees into war connected jobs and the
Philadelphia institute had to be discontinued. Seven training cen­
ters sponsored by the WPA were likewise closed, while an eighth
center was taken over and continued under the board of public
education as a household-occupations training class to provide train­
ing for girls desirous of entering this field of employment.
At the time of the survey, under a revitalized program, the home
of the head teacher was used as a training center, the board of edu­
cation paid the teachers’ salaries, the Philadelphia public utilities
companies provided kitchen and laundry equipment such as stove,



refrigerator, mangle, etc., and an advisory council carried over from
WPA days raised money for telephone bills, incidental household
expenditures, and students’ carfares.
Here in a comfortable 3-story duplex house, which represented the
work environment students would experience, 20 Negro students
between the ages of 14 and 17 were being trained in a variety of house­
hold tasks: cleaning, laundering, marketing, menu planning, cooking,
serving, and the like. All work was assigned individually and the
curriculum adjusted so that each student received practice in every
phase of household service. In addition, students reported for a 3
weeks’ training period to a nursery school housed in one of the regular
vocational schools in the city, where they were taught care of children
in the home.
The course ran for 6 months, from 9 a. m. to 3 p. m., and upon com­
pletion each student received a graduation certificate.
During their training period most of the students gained practical
experience in part-time employment. All employer-employee con­
tacts were handled by the teachers. Suggestions about the work
schedule and hours were offered at the first interview, but no attempt
was made to standardize wages since the girls varied greatly in ability.
A leaflet covering all conditions of work except wages, for the guidance
of employers, was in process of preparation. Educational counselors
in the city schools lunched at least once during the school year at the
house, in order to become better acquainted with its aims and ac­
complishments. Better understanding and referrals have resulted
Indianapolis Program

Among other programs designed to meet local situations or to
face new trends constructively was a training project planned by the
industrial secretary of a community center, Flanner House, in Indi­
Segregated schools in this area do not include a trade school for
Negroes, who compose one-tenth of the total population. This
community center, open to all, but primarily servicing Negroes in
low-income groups, hoped to develop skills in the trainees, whom it
referred to specific jobs.
At the time of the survey the supply of unskilled workers in this
city of almost 400,000 population far exceeded the demand, so that
housewives could easily secure workers to perform heavy, dirty, or
disagreeable tasks. The backlog of orders for household mechanical
equipment, however, and the eventual availability of such machines
would change the type of worker required, according to the com­
munity center’s director.
Before the war no facilities were available for training household



workers in the operation of new machines. Anticipating the need for
such training, the Flanner House project planned, for the future,
instead of general household training courses, to give specific training
in the operation of household equipment. Various types of house­
hold appliances were to be installed in the school. Each trainee
would be encouraged to learn one skill at a time, such as the operation
of a particular type of washing machine, until she became expert at it.
A student might leave the course at the end of one such unit of train­
ing, or if she wished to develop more skills, she might take similar
concentrated course units dealing with other household machines.
In making employment referrals, the attempt was made to refer a
worker who had acquired certain skills to an employer who requested
such skills.
Difficulties on the job might arise because of poor health or un­
desirable behavior habits. Overcoming such difficulties was con­
sidered to be an important part of the training project, and the clinic
already in operation at the community center was available for help
in handling these problems.
The secretary who directed this Indianapolis project was aware
of the difficulties in the way of training encountered by low-income
household workers. Many cannot afford to stop work in order to
take training. For these people, night courses were to be scheduled.
For those who could afford a brief period of time for training before
seeking work, day courses were to be organized on an 8-hour schedule.
As explained above, courses were to be set up in small units, so that a
trainee could sign up for one or more, according to the time she had
A nonprofit cafeteria, to be run by the community center, was
planned, not only to provide training in food preparation and serving,
but also to yield the students a small wage while in training.

There was little disagreement on the importance of placement
policies in any household employment program. The gains attained
through the formulation of working-conditions standards and the
development of training programs can be largely negated by poor
placement. Employment agencies play a vital role in the mainte­
nance and promotion of fair standards. A thorough analysis of job
orders and careful selection of workers best suited to specific jobs
benefit both employer and employee.
Although much interest was shown, little had been done about
placement in the cities surveyed. Community committees, as a
guide to the study of standards, usually consulted the local employ­
ment offices on current practices and rates. Cleveland developed a



limited experimental program, and Cincinnati and other cities were
planning future placement activities.
Outstanding programs were found in the New York office of the
USES (now the New York State Employment Service), and in the
Harlem YWCA in New York.
General Communify Committees’ Placement Work

Although interested in good placement for all household workers,
the Cleveland committee concerned itself primarily with securing
suitable jobs for the 16 graduates of the household training course
which it had sponsored. Employers were approached through the
Cleveland Federation of Churches. Referrals were made only to
employers registered at the federation and who agreed to abide by
the committee’s working-conditions’ standards. Recognizing differ­
ences in qualifications among the graduates of the course, the com­
mittee consulted the course teachers and rated the workers according
to abilities. Wages asked ranged from $16 weekly for the least
skilled to $25 for the most skilled worker. Ten of the sixteen
graduates were placed.
Separate meetings for employers and for employees were planned
which would evaluate the training and placement activities of the
committee and furnish a basis for revisions that appeared desirable.
The Cincinnati committee planned to establish a downtown employ­
ment office, under the supervision of a paid director, to place women
and girls graduated from the household training courses. Description
of job requirements would be requested of prospective employers,
and employers and employees would be given an opportunity to talk
over the jobs under consideration at the agency’s office. A signed,
written agreement containing the standards and recommendations
of the household employment committee would be required. Fees
to meet operating expenses would be charged both employers and
employees. The main purpose of this agency would be to maintain
standards for trained workers.
The regular service department of the YWCA handled placement
for the Employers’ League of Chicago. Only experienced workers
were placed. Employers expected to accept the league’s work stand­
ards. The YWCA staff consultant was available to both employers
and employees when difficulties arose.
New York State Employment Service Placement Work

The New York State Employment Service (at the time of the
survey, the United States Employment Service) had realized, perhaps
more fully than any other agency, the need for more accurate place­
ment of applicants, realistic evaluation of wages by employers, and
greater uniformity of approach among interviewers if household



employment was to yield satisfaction to both employer and employee.
The main features of its referral program are outlined here in the
belief that they ofTer possibilities for adaptation and use by other
placement officers.
The staff of this agency regarded the development of accepted
terminology, job descriptions, and usuable occupational classifications
essential to effective placement practices. Using job definitions
in the United States Department of Labor “Dictionary of Occupa­
tional Titles” as a basis, a set of job descriptions was evolved covering
the following types of jobs: day worker, homemaker (social agencies),
nursemaid, general maid, cook, working housekeeper, chambermaid,
laundress. More detailed, they were an improvement over the
occupational dictionary definitions, since they provided a more
complete picture of the job in general and as it existed locally. For
each of the listed occupations, the agency has formulated job standards
and sample employer-employee agreements.29
The standards sheet, developed in consultation with employers,
applicants, and other agencies, presented minimum standards, cur­
rently accepted in the locality, which seemed practical and fair.
Each Employment Service staff member, supplied with this basic
material, was prepared to discuss job duties and working conditions
intelligently with both job applicant and employer. The job de­
scription helped the interviewer question the worker skillfully and
thoroughly regarding the worker’s experience and ability. It also
enabled the interviewer to help the employer organize the various
tasks included in the employer’s specific job order. The standards
sheet and sample agreement served the Employment Service staff in
guiding employers and employees toward a clear understanding of
the duties and hours, wages, and other conditions of work involved
in the job.
Wage charts were used to give Employment Service staff members
information on hourly and weekly rates for various skills and for
various combinations of days and hours of work. These charts,
prepared after conference with other agencies dealing in household
employment, indicated minimum rates currently offered by employers
and accepted by workers in the area. With the help of these charts
the interviewer could plan with the employer how to obtain the type
and amount of service that would best meet the employer’s need,
stay within her budget, and still guarantee the worker a standard
payment for the work performed.
The New York State Employment Service possesses no power to
enforce standards, but it can and does inform employers that there
is little prospect that a substandard job will be acceptable to appli­
*■ Samples of some of these Job descriptions, standards, and agreements are shown in the appendix, p. 41.



cants, and makes no effort to interest applicants in such job openings.
Within the framework of its legitimate activity, it has encouraged
good standards and has developed new procedures which resulted
in effective placements averaging 16,000 or more monthly.
Ninety-five percent of the placements were for day workers.30
This high percentage of placements for casual workers was the result
of a number of factors: the long hours and poor working conditions
frequently found on steady jobs; unavailability of workers trained
or sufficiently experienced to carry continuing responsibility; and
the variation in periods and types of employment of the male rela­
tives of the women seeking employment. A qualified, trained Em­
ployment Service staff, exhibiting a consistent, objective attitude
and supplied with identical basic information, using the educational
approach, has succeeded in maintaining standards. Both employers
and applicants have been encouraged to think in terms of definite
hours of work for definite hourly wages, and to establish business­
like relations. This office has achieved an outstanding performance
in intelligent and well-informed placement of workers and in obtain­
ing the cooperation of employers.
One of the developments that have contributed toward the ac­
ceptance of standards and satisfactory work relationships between
employers and workers has been the handling of grievances by the
Employment Service. Trained interviewers have been able to deal
with grievances over the telephone, and in this way to help in the
solution of difficulties that would otherwise have resulted in turn­
Harlem YWCA Placement Work

Placement which carefully relates the worker’s background and
experience to the job should result, over a period of time, in a steady
group of satisfied employers and employees who consistently use the
agency’s services whenever needed. The record of the Harlem
YWCA employment office in New York City testifies to the sound­
ness and reliability of such placement techniques. While some cur­
tailment of activity was experienced during the war period, it did
not reach the extreme contraction due to loss of applicants suffered
by other similar agencies. The agency’s report for 1945 reveals
2,950 placements, an increase of 16.2 percent over 1943. Seventy
percent of these placements were for day workers. The prewar
average of registrations amounted to approximately 4,000, as con­
trasted with 3,005 in 1945.
This agency considers housework a vocation demanding specific
30 A day worker is one who seeks work for only a day at a time. One who works one or more days a week
regularly, but less than a full week, for the same employer is a part-time worker.



skills. It therefore keeps a detailed record of applicants, with a
cumulative work history for each person, whether a day or part-time
worker. On application the worker makes out a record of personal
data, work history, and names of former employers. A form letter
requesting ratings on work skill, habits, and attitudes is mailed to all
employer references.31
A health examination, which costs her $1, is required of each
applicant. The physician sends the health report to the agency
office, and if any physical disqualification is reported, the agency offers
counseling to the applicant to help her obtain suitable remedial
treatment. If she is unable to pay for medical care, she is referred to a
On the basis of a worker’s skills, experience, and physical condition,
the office impartially presents to her suitable openings from which she
can make her own job selection.
A small and flexible fee is charged the employee at placement. If
she is unable to pay, the fee is waived. After a trial period of 2 weeks,
if the placement has proved satisfactory, the employer pays an amount
equal to 5 percent of the first month’s salary. While these payments
help to meet the expenses of the department, they also tend to de­
crease turn-over. Workers are less apt to leave or employers to
dismiss workers for petty or minor reasons.
When constant complaints are received concerning a worker, and it
becomes apparent that she is not suited for the work, she is dropped.
Such a situation may indicate the need for individual casework,
however, and the agency’s counseling services are used to help the
worker to obtain employment for which she is better fitted.
Since requests for workers are in excess of the supply, the office
maintains a list of employers with whom good relations have been
established over a period of time. These employers are accorded first
consideration. Occasionally the orders of an employer about whom
there have been constant and unvarying complaints from a number
of workers are rejected. Ordinary grievances registered by workers,
however, are handled by the placement staff. The placement office
considers it important to advise employers, too, and to explain the
necessity and reasons for standards. In many cases, education
removes the causes of the complaints. Explanatory materials regard­
ing household employment have also been distributed to employers.
This employment office is convinced of the importance of household
employment to family well-being. The attention devoted to solving
problems in this field and to maintaining a good service has produced a
fairly steady supply of qualified workers and an intelligent, fair-minded
group of employers.
31 See appendix, p. 64.




The field of household employment has lacked techniques for
evaluating performance through valid measures of skills in different
types of work. The household employment committee in the St.
Paul-Minneapolis area, however, completed before the war an experi­
mental set of performance test questions under the direction of the
University of Minnesota testing bureau. In August 1942 this test,
together with a general aptitude test and a performance test in meal
planning and preparation, was administered at a vacation household
institute held at t£e Minneapolis YWCA camp. The tests were used
also with other groups throughout the country, but the project was
discontinued in 1943 because of the war.
Renewing their testing program in the fall of 1945, the committee
established a fellowship at the Graduate School of the University of
Minnesota, to begin September 1946 and to be devoted to the construc­
tion of a test for household skills. With the university’s approval,
$1,000 for a 1-year fellowship was granted for the work. Field work
was to be done in cooperation with the YWCA and the USES. The
fellow selected was to be under the supervision of a member of the
committee and of the university’s department of home economics
The household employment committee hoped to publish the tests
resulting from this work and to distribute them, on a non-profit basis,
to all agencies and employers concerned with selection, training, and
placement of household workers. Administered by qualified persons,
such tests should help to achieve accurate classifications of skills and
objective and scientific placement of workers.




No community has fully solved the problems of household employ­
ment. But the programs which have been described do furnish prac­
tical experience and knowledge of trends on which recommendations
can be based. Local communities will need to analyze and adapt
them to local needs and circumstances and to modify them to meet
specific problems that may arise.

A comprehensive program designed to meet current needs relating
to household employment would include simultaneous action toward
four objectives: the establishment of working-conditions standards,
better training for both employer and employee, efficient placement
service, and improved status for household employees. The first
three of these objectives form the foundation of the fourth. The change
in status, which involves a change in human relationships, is probably
the most difficult of the four objectives to accomplish, but its develop­
ment will follow more easily if efforts are made along the other three
These objectives can be promoted by: (1) community organizations
(general committees, employer leagues, and employee committees and
unions), (2) public education systems, (3) public and private place­
ment agencies, (4) individual employers, and (5) employees. The
general community committees have been found to be particularly
useful in formulating working-conditions standards and in forwarding
general educational projects relating to the status of household em­
ployees. Public school systems and placement agencies, on their
side, have contributed especially toward meeting the technical prob­
lems of training and referral procedures.

The general community committee is recommended as probably most
conducive to an adequate household employment program. Such a
committee would, in so far as possible, include specialists in the fields
of economics, psychology, sociology, domestic science, vocational
guidance, adult education, and placement, as well as representatives of
social and civic organizations and individual employers and employees.
Advantages which a general community committee offers are:
(a) A general committee provides for discussions among people having
varied viewpoints—especially valuable in the development of standards




(ft) The representation of many community interests helps to create wide­
spread public understanding and acceptance of the program developed by
the committee—again a particular advantage to the establishment of work­
ing-conditions standards.
(c) Specialists are available to furnish technical knowledge on wages,
hours, job descriptions, training needs and possibilities, contract content
and forms, the problem of status, and similar subjects.
(d) The general committee can coordinate the work of various agencies.
Members who are specialists in training or in placement, for example, can
direct activities in these fields toward fulfillment of an over-all program.
(e) A continuing committee can develop a long-range program in addition
to working on immediate problems. General trends and community needs
over a period of time can be taken into account.
(/) Desirable legislation on both national and local levels is most effectively
promoted by a general committee. Such legislation includes the coverage of
household employees by old age and survivors’ insurance, unemployment and
workmen’s compensation, and State maximum hour and minimum wage laws.

Committees or leagues of employers, particularly when their work
supplements that of general community committees, can be especially
effective in securing the acceptance of standards and in interpreting
the work of the general committee. Where no general committee
existed, employers’ groups have undertaken effective steps toward the
development of a general program, as in Chicago, Cleveland, and
1. Standards

As indicated earlier, the establishment of working-conditions stand­
ards is recognized as of primary importance in a household employment
Committees will find it helpful in developing standards to have in­
formation on current local household employment practices relating
to hours of work, wages, job requirements, and living and working
conditions. Some of the data may be available at local State em­
ployment offices and State departments of labor. The committee
may consider the feasibility of questionnaires addressed to employers
and employees.
Local wage rates, hours, and working conditions in occupations
that require the same skills as household employment will be useful
in developing standards. Public and private employment agencies
may be able to furnish these data. If household employment is to
compete with other industries in the community, it must compare
favorably with, at least, jobs in the community that demand the
same skills.
Some State departments of labor have made studies of the cost of
living for working women, other agencies have made pertinent
cost-of-living studies, and some YWCA’s have made expenditure
studies. Where such studies, having definite local application, are



available they will be extremely useful to committees in determining
the minimum wage needs of workers. Several Federal agencies have
prepared reports which have both general and local application.32
The standards adopted by the Chicago Household Employers’
League (see appendix, p. 65) are used by the league in conjunction
with a work agreement which clearly defines work duties under the
divisions of food service, cleaning, laundry, and child care, and which
allocates suitable times for these tasks. As the preference becomes
more marked among household workers for day and part-time work
that has clearly set times for reporting and leaving, and as employers
come to expect higher standards of performance, accurate job descrip­
tions become more necessary. Consultation wTith specialists in
domestic science and in placement when a committee is developing
job descriptions will contribute assurance that such descriptions are
accurate in content and realistic in terms of time allotted to each task.
The standards developed by the Cincinnati and St. Louis committees
(see appendix, pp. 58 and 64) are recommended for their adequacy.
Although written agreements covering standards were proposed by
most committees included in the survey, no agreement included a
provision for settling grievances growing out of alleged or actual
failure of the parties to the agreement to abide by it. There has, in
fact, been little exploration of how this need could be met. It has
been suggested that some community agency, to be agreed on by
employer and employee and designated in the signed contract, might
serve as mediator, after employer and employee had exhausted every
effort to settle their differences.
Protesting of standards by a number of employers and employees
before the standards are finally adopted, would give them validity
and practicability. (Such an initial test was undertaken by the
Cleveland committee.)
Once a committee has determined on the standards it will support,
its problem will be: (1) to obtain public appreciation of the need for
good working-conditions standards and of the value to the commu­
nity of such standards, and (2) to obtain employers’ recognition of
the advantages to them of the proposed standards. The educational
campaign which will need to be undertaken can be carried out in part
by committee members through the organizations they represent.
Panels, forums, lectures, skits, radio programs, and newspaper feature
articles are constructive methods by which a wider public may be
informed of the problems and contributions of household workers.
The skills involved in household employment, the services rendered
in maintaining homes under normal and emergency conditions, and
32 Information on available data may be obtained from the Women’s Bureau, U. S. Department of Labor,
Washington 25, D. C.



the increased purchasing power resulting from good wages to house­
hold employees are other topics for such programs.
The methods used by both the St. Louis and the Syracuse com­
mittees to publicize their programs and reach a wider audience,
already discussed, illustrate means of creating general public accept­
ance of good employment standards.
2. Status

As already indicated, the improvement of the status of household
employment rests to a large degree on establishment of good workingconditions standards, including wage standards; on providing oppor­
tunities for training, to ensure competency of the worker; and on
intelligent placement. Improved status will be an outgrowth of
these measures.
They do not, however, offer a complete answer. Other difficulties,
and an indication of the remedy, are perhaps best stated in the Gen­
eral Conclusions to the “Report on Post-War Organisation of Private
Domestic Employment” prepared by Miss Violet Markham and Miss
Florence Hancock and presented by the Minister of Labor and
National Service of Great Britain to Parliament, June 1945:
We are conscious in presenting this report that we have not proposed any
final or comprehensive solution of existing difficulties. The difficulties are of
long standing and had their origin in a general social outlook different from that
of the modern world. A substantial amount of slack consequently remains to
be taken up. Some necessary adjustments are psychological and cannot be
dealt with merely by the provision of better machinery. We hope and think
that many of the problems involved will find their solution .in the changed and
more equalitarian outlook of the present day intensified as that outlook has been
by common sufferings and tribulations shared by all alike during the war. The
ideal of the good life for every citizen, whatever his or her lot, is independent of
the fleeting satisfactions of wealth or class and springs from a deepened sense of
the worth and value of the individual man and woman—the real principle at
stake in the struggle which has overwhelmed mankind. In a society which seeks
however imprefectly to give expression to that ideal, domestic work will fall
into its natural place as one of many functions necessary to the comfort and
efficiency of a highly specialised community. “I serve” is a princely motto, and
it is through service from each to all in varying forms and ways that the true
enrichment of life is found and its abiding values made plain.

The challenge to general community committees, employers’
leagues, and other interested organizations, as well as to all individ­
uals who have a stake in finding a solution to the problem of household
employments, is also well expressed in’the foregoing report:
The future of the home, that corner stone of the national life, is at stake.
Is the home with its many and varied traditions, its individuality and the flame
of ancient sanctities still alight beneath the surface of a mechanised age, to give
place to the drab uniformity of the apartment house or residential hotel? It is
for those who value family life to find the right answer to that question.



3. Training and Placement

Since the acceptance of standards is directly related to adequate
training and placement, general committees and employers’ and
employees’ groups should work closely with local training and place­
ment agencies.
Committees should be concerned with the training of employers as
well as of workers. The employer should be aware of the value of
good working conditions and able to organize household routine
efficiently. It is recommended that committees press for the intro­
duction of household management courses in local schools. The com­
mittees themselves should also be equipped to advise employers on
the selection of tasks to be done by employees who are responsible
for only a part of the work.
In the field of employee training, committees can urge the inclusion
of household training courses in local vocational education programs
and assist in recruitment, financial and material aid, and placement.
In addition, however, there is need for supervision of the courses,
especially in selection of students. Although a number of committees
discussed in this report have done much for the establishment of train­
ing courses, applicants were not always chosen on the basis of their
Suitability for household employment and intention of going into this
Recent experiences of committees which had worked for the estabment of household training courses by local boards of education reveal
the poor results obtained when insufficient and careless preliminary
checks on the caliber and interests of the students are made. In
Syracuse, of 11 recruits none were interested in earning a living as
household employees, and in Atlanta only 2 of the 11 graduates de­
sired employment in domestic service. The cities with the best results
were Cincinnati, where employment possibilities were stressed in
selecting 18 enrollees; St. Louis, whose course was composed of 22
students, 16 of whom were already employed and allowed to take the
course on working time and 6 of whom were seeking work; and Cleve­
land, where the group of 15 had been carefully screened and selected
by the household employment committee.
The accomplishments of students in a training course should be
evaluated. Both the Cleveland and the Atlanta committees recog­
nized the difference in skills among students even after training. The
Cleveland committee, as a result, modified its minimum standard of
$20 for trained workers, since some of the graduates of the course
could not be considered trained. The Atlanta committee considered
the possibility of granting different types of certificates based on the
school record of the trainees.
Training offered should be on a level comparable with other trade



school courses offered by the local educational systems. The commit­
tee should also see that the course provides the specific skills that are
most in demand in the community.
It is recommended that committees work for the development of
placement techniques and machinery by placement agencies, whether
public or private agencies, YWCA, or subcommittee of the general
committee. The development of good placement techniques has been
less far advanced than training programs in the cities studied. A
first essential is objective standards for classifying household assistants
as “trained” or “experienced” and accurate definitions of unskilled,
semiskilled, and skilled work are needed. They have not as yet been
formulated. Until objective classifications are available by which
workers can be grouped according to skills, background, and expe­
rience, general acceptance of standards for household employment
will not be achieved. (But see also “Suggestions for Local Placement
Bureaus,” p. 35.)
Committees can encourage placement agencies to develop advanced
placement techniques and to use committee standards when referrals
are made. Standards for wage rates, job descriptions, and sample
agreements developed by the committee should be in the hands of
placement offices for guidance in household employment referrals.
1. Training

Although committees can make a valuable contribution to the estab­
lishment and operation of training programs, the responsibility for
such programs rests primarily with the public school system. It is
therefore suggested that vocational training divisions of the schools
establish courses for workers and courses for employers. Local school
boards can make use of the assistance provided by Federal funds
made available to the States for vocational education through the
U. S. Office of Education.
Courses should be planned to prepare workers for the jobs currently
offered in the community. To this end the household employment
committees should be consulted on the needs of the average house­
hold, its equipment, size, and servicing requirements, and the types
of workers most in demand—whether day, part-time, or full-time
worker, resident or nonresident, or specialist.
Standards for the courses in terms of attendance requirements,
subject matter, and graduation requirements should be comparable
to those in other types of vocational training. Equipment and facili­
ties should be provided that approximate real-life situations and that
give the student experience with equipment used in the modern home.
It is more desirable to have such facilities at the school in which the



course is held than to use private homes as was done in Cleveland
where committee members lent their homes for demonstrations, or
than to give the courses in regular classrooms with no equipment for
demonstrations, as was done in Syracuse.
Schedules for courses set to meet the needs of the students would
include full-time day classes for unemployed or prospective workers
and evening courses for those who work during the day. Regularly
employed workers who are allowed working time for short periods of
training should be given opportunity to develop specific skills through
course work.
It is suggested that vocational advisers help students to obtain
part-time work during the period of school attendance, as a source of
income for the student and as an opportunity for practical experience.
Students could bring their working problems to class for discussion
and analysis. Through this procedure the teachers could become
familiar with the problems encountered by the students and plan
their courses to meet these problems. Part-time jobs might also be
considered as a part of the training, and students would be rated on
them as they are on their performance in the course itself.
Housewives, as well as employees, should have courses made avail­
able to them. Those who do all their own work might profit by
courses covering household routines. Those who employ part- or full­
time workers can be taught the basic principles of efficient home man­
agement, and, in particular, can be aided in the analysis of household
jobs, in order to acquire an understanding of what each job requires
in time, skill, and energy, and how work assignments should be made
in relation to the help that is available. Such a course in home
management was introduced into Opportunity School in Atlanta, Ga.,
in 1946. It stressed work organization, mastery of basic skills, and
an understanding of and respect for the quality of work required in
the modern home.
2. Status

As mentioned above, training contributes to the improvement of
status. If students are adequately prepared, they will be in a better
position to make household employment a satisfying and rewarding
kind of work and to advance their economic and social standing.
3. Placement

Vocational schools ought not limit themselves to training, but
should also develop referral policies in agreement with local commit­
tees and placement agencies that are attempting to maintain standards
of wages, hours, and other working conditions. They should par­
ticularly work closely with the employment offices that handle most
of the placements of household employees in the community. If they
772323°—48---------- 6



operate their own placement offices they should use placement tech­
niques discussed under “Suggestions to Local Placement Bureaus.”
In addition, the promotion of standards by vocational schools can
be aided through the use of printed recommendations to be circulated
among employers and employees. The pamphlet, “Household Em­
ployment of High School Girls,” is an example of this technique.
This pamphlet, published by the Occupational Adjustment Depart­
ment of the Oakland, Calif., public schools, concerns working condi­
tions for the high school student, but equally instructive pamphlets can
be prepared dealing with work standards for adult household workers.

The effective operation of standards in household employment and
improvement of the status of household employment depend in large
measure on the cooperation of local placement agencies and the
effectiveness of their referral techniques. It is therefore suggested
that public agencies such as the USES and State employment services
and interested local private offices develop procedures to provide the
employer with the kind and amount of service for which she is willing
and able to pay, and to secure for the employee wages and conditions
of work which meet the best standards of the community.
Although public agencies possess no authority to enforce or main­
tain standards in their transactions with employers and employees,
they can refer to the standards proposed by local household com­
mittees for guidance. Private agencies can legitimately insist on the
acceptance of committee standards among employers.
Basic to the suitable placement of workers are accurate and full
job descriptions which present a complete picture of the duties in­
volved in the employer’s order. With these descriptions at hand,
the employment interviewer can select a suitable worker for the job
Because of the increasing preference of workers for day or part­
time work, placement interviewers might well devise wage charts
which show rates, based on hourly rates, for various combinations of
days and hours of work per week. Such charts would also assist
placement interviewers in advising employers on how much service
they could expect to obtain at standard rates for the amount of money
at their disposal. The job descriptions and wage charts used by the
New York State Employment Service in placement procedures are
An adequate placement program will include maintenance of
records of all pertinent information about the applicant. Previous
training and experience, the results of mental, vocational, and physical
tests, references, and follow-up reports should all be on file.



Personal and experience records should also be filed for employers
as well as employees. Employers should be expected to guarantee
standards developed by the community committees. Both public
and private agencies should do everything possible to encourage both
parties to assume responsibility for maintaining satisfactory standards.
Particularly noteworthy are the application forms and forms for em­
ployer reports on employees, which were developed by the Harlem
YWCA, and are shown in appendix B.
Placement programs will benefit from research that is being under­
taken in this field. The test to measure the skills of the worker
developed at the graduate school of the department of home economics
education, University of Minnesota, for example, will help in intelli­
gent placement of workers. Other research projects, of which ad­
vantage should be taken where possible, deal with time measurements
of household tasks, job analysis, development of vocational tests,
psychological studies of emotional difficulties related to the occupa­
tion, causes of turn-over, wage rates in this and allied vocations, and
training methods.
Good placement work will not only promote efficient service, but
will help to raise the status of the employee. The interdependence
of standards, training, placement, and status cannot be too frequently

Since local general committees are essential in developing an ade­
quate household employment program, it is recommended that em­
ployers, concerned in improving the conditions, work for the establish­
ment of such committees in their communities. If committees have
been established, employers can participate in their work and practice
the standards developed by them. The following suggestions are for
the guidance of individual employers in localities where committees
do not exist. The individual employer occupies an important place
in the field of household employment; it is she who must meet the
competition of industry with its superior organization, regulated and
defined work schedules, and wage rates based on skill and experience.
Efficient household planning and work simplification should be
established. There is a definite relation between such management
practice and the amount and quality of work done by the employee.
In estimating the time and skill required for specific tasks in the
home, the employer should consider the physical structure and size
of the house or apartment, the composition of the family (presence of
small children, older persons, invalids), and the use of modern labor­
saving devices. She should then decide how much of the required
service she will expect of an employee, and select the jobs to be



assigned to the employee and those for which she herself will be
It would help the employer to achieve an efficient work plan and
fair distribution of tasks among family members and employees if she
would make it her responsibility: to eliminate unnecessary labor by
simplifying household routines wherever possible; to teach children to
respect home equipment and take care of their own toys and clothes
as much as they can; to use the best household machinery the family
can afford; and to patronize professional or commercial services for
such tasks as rug cleaning, laundering, window washing, and the like.
The employer should examine the length of the workweek and the
total and daily hours of duty. She should bear in mind the trend
toward shorter hours. The specific times for beginning and ending
each day’s work should be clearly stated, as well as the number of
daily and weekly hours of work.
Clear understanding should be reached on other factors in the home
situation: the number of “working hours” represented by “hours on
call,” when the worker is free except for such duties as answering the
door bell or the telephone; at what point overtime pay or compensa­
tory time off should be allowed, and what the rate of pay for overtime
should be.
In deciding on wages, the employer should remember that she must
compete with wages paid by local industry for comparable work.
In the absence of a household employment committee, she may consult
the State or Federal employment service for information on prevailing
rates. She should also follow the practice in industry of paying
higher rates for more difficult jobs: for example, heavy manual work—
washing walls and waxing floors—or special services such as catering,
chauffeuring, and fine laundering.
Since negotiations on hours, wages, and working conditions tend to
be detailed and complex, it is recommended that decisions be put in
writing in the form of a contract. Samples of such contracts and
help in drawing up one can be obtained from a domestic worker’s
union, a household employment committee, or a local employment
office. If these sources are not available, the employer and the
employee can work out their own contract. The sample agreement
of the New York State Employment Service (appendix, p. 44) can be
used as a guide.
The initial interview with the employee should be conducted in a
business-like way; it can set the whole tone for the employer-employee
relation in the household. Ample time should be allowed and points
to be discussed should be written down in advance. The worker
should be given a full account of tasks to be done, with major and
minor responsibilities indicated, such as: general housecleaning, cook­



ing, serving, meal planning, marketing, washing, ironing, care of
children, aged persons or invalids, upstairs work, driving a car, and
gardening. The time to be spent on each task and the daily or weekly
schedule should be specified. Both may depend in part on the ex­
perience of the worker and the extent to which she is able to and the
employer wishes her to assume responsibility for her own work
The amount of wages should be specified, and also the time of pay­
ment and overtime provisions. Other items to be agreed on during
the initial interview are vacation, sick leave, health examination,
holidays, insurance provisions, upkeep of uniforms, housing arrange­
ments, meals and time involved, home privileges, trial work period,
termination notices, and breakage or damage liability.
The employer can help to improve the conditions of household
employment by using agencies that uphold and maintain standards.
Registration at the best available employment bureau supports and
encourages those placement agencies that are anxious to attract
qualified household workers by guaranteeing them good employment
standards. In dealing with such agencies the employer should
acknowledge the value of training and experience by agreeing to pay
higher wages for a well-trained and thoroughly experienced worker.
The employer might in some instances follow the example of industry
in giving the employee working time for attendance at training classes
which will increase the worker’s skills and teach her more efficient
methods of work.
Finally, the employer should be competent in home management
techniques. If she lacks skill in this field she should attend home
management courses offered in local adult education or vocational
schools or encourage the establishment of such courses if none are
available. Such classes not only benefit the individual housewife, but
also, by presenting basic and uniform methods and practices to groups
of household employers, aid in standardizing and regularizing house­
hold management procedures and policies generally.

The success of a program for the improvement of standards and
status of household employment depends on the worker as well as on
the employer. It is therefore suggested that the household employee
as well as the employer cooperate with general committees and other
local agencies promoting such programs. Higher standards represent
both greater opportunities and greater responsibilities.
High standards of wages, hours, and working conditions require
high standards of workmanship and dependability. The workers
should obtain, if possible, training to improve her skills and develop



her abilities. She should attend domestic science training courses in
the community, and, if possible, receive the certificate or diploma that
signifies successful completion of the course. If no such training
opportunities exist, she should register a request for such a course at
the local vocational or adult education school and encourage other
household workers to do likewise.
In order to obtain the job for which she is best suited and to enjoy
good working conditions, the worker is advised to register at the com­
munity employment service with the highest standards. During the
registration interview she should fully explain her personal pre­
ferences concerning working where there are animals, children, old
people, invalids, or employed couples, and give other relevant infor­
mation. She should also explain what are her best skills and favorite
types of work.
Once on the job, the worker should follow high standards of per­
sonal conduct. Since the work is physically demanding, it is desirable
to observe good rules of health and hygiene. An annual physical
examination is advisable. The worker should also maintain rules of
professional ethics in the confidential treatment of all family affairs
of her employers.
The household employee is urged to participate in group recreation
and social and cultural activities in order to compensate for the
isolation of her job. It is particularly recommended that she work
with other household workers to promote their occupational interests
through such organizations as a local household employment com­
mittee, a domestic workers’ union, or a club for household workers
at the YWCA. Such organizations are valuable to the individual
and also offer an opportunity to improve general standards through
promoting better local working conditions and through work for the
extension of legislative protection, both Federal and State, to house­
hold employees.


The following materials illustrate some of the efforts being made by­
various agencies to help solve the problem of domestic employment
for both the employer and the employee.
The New York State Employment Service plan shows the threefold
function of a placement agency. Recognizing that satisfaction to both
the employer and the employee will result from fitting the person to
the job, the Employment Service has developed a program which
provides job descriptions, job standards, and sample contract agree­
ments. It is hoped that the use of these three forms jointly, by
establishing good standards of working conditions, placement proce­
dure, and work requirements, will help to lessen, if not remove the
major disadvantages of domestic employment and put this work on
an equal basis with other comparable occupations.
This appendix shows only one example of a complete placement
plan of the New York State Employment Service, that for general
maid. The job description and job standards, but not the contract
agreement, are also shown for the occupation of laundress. The Em­
ployment Service has prepared job descriptions, job standards, and
contract agreements for six other occupations, as described above
(p. 24). The standards are essentially the same except for descrip­
tions of duties, and the contract agreements are also practically
identical with the one shown.
The referral, application, and personal reference cards of the Harlem
Placement Bureau incorporate minimum standards in the records,
aid in efficient placement, and provide a means of checking the
satisfaction of the employer and employee.
Standards are also presented which have been developed by general
household employment committees in Cincinnati; Oakland, Calif.;
St. Paul-Minneapolis; and Syracuse. Standards of an employers’
group are represented by those of the Chicago Household Employers’
In addition, the employer and employee cards and work-agreement
form of the United Domestic Workers Local 1348 (CIO), Washington,
D. C., have been included as an example of a union’s efforts to improve
employees’ hours, wages and working conditions.

New York State Employment Service

The attached are dependent upon each other and should be used together.
They include:
1. Job description.—This elaborates on the dictionary definition giving a more
complete picture of the job in general as it exists locally.
2. Job standards.—On the basis of the job description, sample minimum stand­
ards are described for the full-time job as it exists locally at present time. These
standards are a guide allowing for variations in worker qualifications and in job
requirements. No attempt has been made to cover the trainee situation which
would involve on the job training and courses at school.
3. Agreement.—(1) Form. (2) Sample. This is to be filled in for a specific
job. It defines hours, wages, and conditions of employment for that job and is
to be signed by employer and worker. Changes may be made when necessary.
Prepared by:



Household Offices,

New York City.



Performs, under immediate supervision or in accordance with employer’s
instructions, varied domestic duties in a household.
1. Prepares

and serves

2. Keeps house clean and

3. Performs various mis­
cellaneous tasks.

Prepares food, cooks and serves meals in accordance
with instructions from employer. May follow
own recipes. Sets table, serves meals, washes
Cleans entire house, including washing and waxing
floors and woodwork, dusting and polishing fur­
niture, making beds and changing linen, vacuum­
ing rugs, beds, furniture, cleaning Venetian
blinds. Polishes silver and other metalware.
May clean windows.
May answer telephone and doorbell, may care for
children occasionally and watch them at play.
May prepare meals for invalid or elderly person.

1. Cooking appliances and Stove, refrigerator, toaster, broiler, cookers, waffle
irons, mixers, dishes, glassware and silverware,
pots and pans, cooking utensils, dishwashing
machines, towels, dishcloths.
2. Laundry equipment__ Washers, ironers, wringers, dryers, tubs, wash­
boards, ironing boards, baskets, hangers, pins,
lines, stretchers, cleaning fluids, bluings, soaps,
and starches.
3. Cleaning equipment__ Vacuum cleaners, brooms, mops, brushes, sweepers,
cloths, chamois, gloves, sponges, pails, dustpans,
abrasives, waxes, polishes, soaps, powders, cleaning fluids, and disinfectants.
A. Education---------------- Literacy preferred, but not necessary.
B. Experience and train­ Must have had experience in own home or homes
of others. May substitute training which included
homemaking experience.
C. Responsibility
Responsible for carrying out instructions. Must
cooperate with person responsible for manage­
ment of household, also with other members of
D. Job knowledge _. .. Should know how to use and clean properly all
equipment, such as vacuum bag and brushes,
and how to use materials appropriate to specific
job. Should know elementary rules of cooking,
laundry, and cleaning.



E. Mental application_ Should be sufficiently alert to be able to act in
emergencies. Should be able to give attention
to many items simultaneously.
F. Dexterity and accu­ Must have sufficient manual dexterity to use tools
and equipment without breakage. Must be
sufficiently accurate to follow recipes and take
telephone messages, if answering telephone is one
of specified duties.
G. Working conditions__ (1) Surroundings.—Healthy, informal, comfortable
environment, close personal contact with other
persons in house, may sleep in.
(2) Hazards.—Careless use and placement of
equipment and tools. Workers not protected by
industrial rules and regulations or covered by
compensation, except for New York State
Legislation effective January 1, 1947.
H. Physical requirements. Ordinarily female, of legal work age. Must have
physical endurance, emotional stability. Must
be free of communicable disease or occupationally
hazardous disease. Must have good muscular
coordination and be able to stand, bend, stretch,
stoop, and to lift light objects such as vacuum
cleaner, or to move small pieces of furniture such
as arm chairs.
I. General comments____ Most jobs represent different combinations of the
above duties and skills in varying degrees. Item
6 (duties) in the suggested agreement should be
used flexibly to cover the actual duties of specific

(For discussion purposes only)

a. Working time.—Working time should not exceed 48 hours per week. “On
call” time for resident workers should not exceed 12 hours per week. (Time on
call is that time when worker is not performing regular duties but is available
for emergencies.) Time off should be at least 1 complete day from completion
of duties on previous day to morning of following day, and one afternoon each
week. Resident workers should be on duty 2 evenings per week. These are
included in the hours on call. Meal periods should be % hour; and J4 hour rest,
in periods to be arranged, should be permitted during the day.
b. Vacations and holidays.—Vacation should be taken in 1- or 2-week periods
after it has been accumulated at the rate of 1 week for each 6-month period.
Four of the 8 national holidays are to be completely free.
c. Sick leave.—Paid sick leave should be accumulated at the rate of 1 day per
d. Overtime.—Any hours in excess of the 48-hour workweek (or, for resident
workers, 60-hour), should be considered overtime and be compensated for as
provided under wages.
Wages should be 62)4 cents per hour for jobs not requiring cooking and 72)4
cents per hour for jobs requiring cooking. At this rate, wages for a 48-hour week
would be $30 and $35, respectively. For resident jobs the same wage is arrived
at on the basis of 60 hours per week and a. deduction of $7.50 per week for
maintenance. Overtime should be compensated at time and one-half of hourly
rate of pay. Wage increases should be automatic and based on length of service.

a. Accommodations.—Resident worker should be provided with own well
heated and ventilated room or may share suite of rooms with another worker.
She should have own bath or free access to one. Worker should be responsible
for cleanliness of quarters and may entertain friends provided the decorum of
the household is maintained. Laundry service, except for personal clothing, and
an adequate and nutritious diet, should be supplied by the employer.
b. Uniforms.—Worker should supply own work clothes. Employer should
supply uniforms if required.
c. Safety.—No task hazardous to health or safety of worker or other members
of household should be assigned or performed. Equipment should be kept in
good condition by employer and worker and all measures to prevent accidents
should be taken. Employer should cover worker by accident insurance.
If health examination of worker is required, employer should cover cost.
a. Businesslike, courteous attitude should be maintained.
b. Instructions should be given by one designated person.
c. Duties should be clearly defined.



d. Arrangements should be made for use of telephone and church attendance.
e. There should be provision for periodic re-evaluation of the job and the
a. Worker should have had similar experience in own home or homes of others;
she may have had training course or be trained on job.
b. Worker should be sufficiently alert to follow instructions and to adjust to
required schedules.
c. Worker should maintain a neat appearance.
d. Worker should be free of communicable and occupationally hazardous dis­
ease and should be strong enough to perform required tasks. . Employer should
inform worker of any communicable disease in household.
c. Worker should be prepared to furnish references as to her skill, training,
and integrity.
See “Tasks Performed,” in Job Description.
See “Equipment and Materials” in Job Description.
There should be a 2-week trial period during which either party may decide
to terminate arrangement. At the expiration of the 2 weeks, an agreement is
signed and thereafter 2 weeks’ notice should be given by either party desiring to
terminate it. Employer should pay 2 weeks’ wages if notice is not given by her.
Employer and worker should sign duplicate agreements defining hours, wages,
and conditions of work on the specific job.

(For discussion purposes only)

This agreement is made this___ day ofbetween,,
the employer and------------------ , the worker, to aid in establishing harmonious
relations and in maintaining fair employment practices.
The hours of duty shall behours per week, from________a. m. to
------------p. m.,--------------days per week. Hours on call for resident workers
shall not exceed-------- hours per week. Time off shall be one complete day each
week, from completion of duties on previous day to morning of following day,
which shall beplus
Meal periods shall be Yi hour and shall be considered working time.
Worker shall take a hour rest period daily.
Vacation shall be taken in 1- or 2-week periods after it has been accumulated
at the rate of 1 week for each 6-month period worked.
Paid sick leave shall accumulate at the rate of 1 da.y per month.
Hours in excess of the agreed-upon schedule (including working and on call
time) shall be considered overtime and be compensated for as provided under
Wages shall be $---------per week to start, payable in cash each
At the end of each year’s service for-------- years, the wage shall be increased
$---------per week to a maximum of $per week.
The hourly rate of pay for the first year shall beper hour. It shall be
increased to conform to wage increases each year.
The worker shall have living quarters consisting of
She shall be responsible for cleanliness of these quarters and may entertain
friends there provided the decorum of the household is maintained.
Meals and laundry service, except personal laundry, shall be supplied to the
The worker shall supply own work clothing. Employer (shall not supply!
No task hazardous to health and safety of the worker or to other members of
household shall be assigned or performed. The employer shall keep equipment
in proper working condition and worker shall use equipment properly, taking
all precautions to prevent accidents. Employer shall carry insurance covering
injury to worker in the home.



Worker shall have a health'examination to be paid for by employer.
Businesslike and courteous attitude shall be maintained at all times. The
worker shall receive instructions fromand be directly responsbile
to her.
1___________ _____________ _____ _____ _____ ___________________

5________________ ___________________________________________________ _
______ ___
Notice of 2 weeks shall be given by either party before terminating this agree­
ment. Employer terminating this agreement without notice shall pay 2 weeks’


Washes and irons household linens and clothing; may do minor repairs on worn
or torn articles.
Methods employed vary with type and. amount of equipment available, as well
as with textures, colors, and conditions of materials to be laundered, and properties
of water to be used.
1. Washes articlesSorts and examines, removes stains, makes neces­
sary preliminary minor repairs. Washes clothes
by hand or machine. Rinses. Applies bluing
and/or starch where necessary.
2. Irons articlesUses hand iron or flat ironer (machine) to iron
3. Mends articles Replaces buttons, repairs rips and tears.
4. Performs various mis- May clean laundry or kitchen. May perform other
cellaneous tasks.
duties in household during spare time.
1. Stain removersVarious chemicals, such as bleaches, alcohol, vine­
gar, salt, and sponges, brushes, cheesecloth, etc.
2. Laundry equipment__ Washer, tubs, washboard, wringer, dryers, ironing
board, flat ironer (machine), baskets, hangers,
pins, lines, stretcher, bluing, bleaches, soaps, and
3. Mending equipment__ Thread, needles, thimble, sewing machine, scissors,
tape measure, pins, buttons, patch materials,
1. EducationShould be able to read labels and instructions.
2. Experience and train- Must have had experience in own home, homes of
others, or in commercial or hand laundries. May
substitute vocational training.
3. ResponsibilityResponsible for following directions, written and
oral, and for carrying out instructions. Must
cooperate with person managing household, other
employees, and members of the family. Respon­
sible for appearance and care of clothing laundered
and for care of equipment.
4. Job knowledgeShould know how to use and clean all equipment
properly and how to use materials appropriate
to the specific job. Should have knowledge of
spot and stain removal, as well as methods and
cleaning agents to be used on various materials.
Should be able to do simple mending and darning.




5. Mental application----- Must be able to detect reactions of fabrics to water,
stain removers, heat, etc. Should be able to act
quickly in emergencies.
6. Dexterity and aecu- Must have sufficient manual dexterity to use tools
and equipment safely and without breakage.
7. Working conditions----(1) Surroundings.—Usually works in private homes.
Conditions vary greatly. Not always comfort­
ably heated, well-lighted, free from dampness.
May work in basement of large apartment house
where several types of equipment are available.
(2) Hazards.—Careless placement and use of equip­
ment and tools; shock from electrical fixtures and
equipment; burns from irons and hot water or
chemicals; rashes or skin eruptions.
(3) Social security and compensation.—Workers not
covered for injury in homes except for New York
State legislation effective Jan. 1, 1947. New
York State Unemployment Insurance law covers
workers in homes where there are four or more
household employees.
8. Physical requirements _ Must have sufficient endurance to stand for long
periods of time. Must have good muscular co­
ordination, and must be able to stand, bend,
stretch, stoop, reach, and lift heavy baskets of
clothes up to 25 pounds. Must be able to
operate washers, wringers, dryers, and to wring
by hand. Must be free of communicable or
occupationally hazardous disease.

(For discussion purposes only)

a. Working time.-—Regular working time should not exceed 40 hours per week
or 8 hours per day. Some of this time may be devoted to duties other than laun­
dering, depending on the length of the workweek and the needs of the household.
On resident jobs 8 hours of “additional time” per week may be spent on such
duties. Time off should be 2 complete days per week. Meal periods should be
}4 hour, J4 hour of rest in periods to be arranged should be permitted each day.
b. Vacation and holidays.—A minimum of 2 weeks’ vacation annually should
be taken in 1- or 2-week periods after it has been accumulated by the worker at
the rate of 1 week for each 6-month period worked. Four of the 8 national
holidays are to be completely free.
c. Sick leave.—Paid sick leave should be accumulated at the rate of 1 day per
d. Overtime.-—Any hours in excess of the 40-hour week (or for resident workers,
48-hour) should be considered overtime and should be compensated for as pro­
vided under “Wages.”
Wages should range from 75 cents to $1 per hour, depending on the skill of the
worker and the intricacy of the work involved. At this rate the weekly wage for
a 40-hour week would range from 825 to $40. On resident jobs the rate is the
same, with the 8 hours of “additional time” compensating for the cost of mainte­
nance. Overtime should be compensated for at time and one-half of the regular
hourly rate of pay. Wage increases should be automatic and based on length of
o. Accommodations.—Nonresident wrorker should have suitable place to change
clothing and keep belongings. Resident worker should bo provided with own
well-heated and ventilated room, or may share suite of rooms with another
worker. She should have own bath or have free access to one. Worker should
be responsible for cleanliness of quarters and should be permitted to entertain
friends there, provided the decorum of the household is maintained. Laundry
service, except for personal clothing, and an adequate and nutritious diet should
be supplied by employer.
b. Uniforms.—Worker should supply own work clothes. Employer should
supply uniform if required.
c. Safety.—No task hazardous to the health and safety of the worker or other
members of the household should be assigned or performed. Equipment should
be kept in good condition by employer and worker, and all measures to prevent
accidents should be taken. Employer should cover worker by accident insurance.
If health examination of worker is required, employer should cover the cost.
a. Businesslike, courteous attitude should be maintained.
b. Instructions should be given by one designated person.



c. Duties should be clearly defined.
d. Arrangements should be made for use of telephone.
e. There should be provision for periodic re-evaluation of the job and the
a. Worker should have had similar experience in own home or homes of others;
she may have had training course or be trained on job.
b. Worker should be sufficiently alert to follow instructions and to adjust to
required schedules.
c. Worker should maintain a neat appearance.
d. Worker should be free of communicable and occupationally hazardous disease
and should be strong enough to perform required tasks. Employer should inform
worker of any communicable disease in household and take any steps necessary for
protection of worker.
e. Worker should be prepared to furnish references as to her skill and integrity.
See “Tasks Performed,” in Job Description.
See “Equipment and Materials,” in Job Description.
There should be a 2-week trial period during which either party may decide to
terminate arrangement. At the expiration of the 2 weeks, an agreement is signed,
and thereafter 2 weeks’ notice should be given by either party desiring to terminate
it. Employer should pay 2 weeks’ wages if notice is not given by her.
Employer and ■worker should sign duplicate agreements defining wages, hours,
duties, and conditions of work on specific job.

YWCA Placement Bureau, Harlem Branch

Last name------------- First name--------------Age_____Registration date
Apt-----------------Address------------- Zone No.. P. H_____ Referred byre-reg. dates__
Telephone------------Citizen_______ Place of birth
Notify in emergency--------------- Address.Relation
Years in New York-------- Single Height______________________
__ ____
Living home------------------ Married Weight
Boarding----------------------- Widow General health
Rooming----------------------- Separated
On job-------------------------- Dependents

Name and place of school

Courses studied


Grade or high school.
Business or technical.
Special training____

Name of last employer Date started
Address------------------------------------------------- Dateleft___
Kind of business engaged in Salary
Reason for leaving____________________________________
Describe in detail your work and responsibilities.

Name of other employer Date started.
Address------------------------------------------------ Date left
Kind of business engaged in Salary
Reason for leaving____________________________________
Describe in detail your work and responsibilities

Name of other employer Date started
Address Date left___________________________________________
Kind of business engaged in Salary___________________________
Reason for leaving_____________________________________________
Describe in detail your work and responsibilities

Did you



Work desired Are you willing to work out of town?
Work qualified for Are you willing to sleep in?
Tests------------------------------------- Remarks and special problems
Clean___ ____ __ Alert_____
Sullen _
Indifferent .
Neat__ _____________ _ Refined Untidv_ _
___ ------ -_ Congenial .

Sense of humor.

[Reverse side of application blank]

Date referred



Kind of work

[A record of a health examination is also required]


The Young Women’s Christian Association of the City of New York, Harlem Branch
My Dear:

who is seeking a position as---------------------------------------has given your name as reference. We should appreciate your helpfulness in
rating the worker in order that we may properly adjust her in a job and serve
our employers more efficiently.
Any information you give will be regarded as confidential. An early reply will
be greatly appreciated, since the applicant cannot secure employment until we
hear from you.
Very truly yours,
[Please rate by cheek on appropriate space]


Cheerfulness, courtesy------------------------Cooperativeness______________________
Personal integrity:
Honesty, truthfulness_________________
Work habits and attitudes:
Punctuality, orderliness----------------------Faithfulness to duty--------------------------The applicant is best in----------------------------Length of employment------------------------------Reason for leaving________________________
Date_____ _____ _____________


Address -





Placement Bureau—Employment Agency, Harlem Branch YWCA

To Date-------------------------------------------------------------------------Address Apt--------------------------------------------------------------------This introduces_____________________________________________
Sent in reply to your request for--------------------------------------------Wage__________ Employer’s agency fee on reverse side
Interview____________________ __________________ ___________
Referred by Please pay carfare.

Engaged: (Check one)




Employer’s signature

Open for employer’s calls: Daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 12 noon.

[Reverse side of referral card]

After 2 weeks’ trial period for persons placed in household employment, if the
placement is satisfactory, the employer will be billed for the sum equivalent to
5 percent of the wages contracted for 1 month.
No additional charge is made for any replacement made within a period of 1
month after the first placement is made.

Household Employment Committee of Philadelphia

A written job outline shall be agreed upon by employer and employee at the
time of employment. A definitely agreed upon time of meeting between employer
and employee to adjust any changes that take place in the job set-up, either in the
area of job needs or of job performance, shall be decided upon. At such time of
evaluation, if the working relationship is satisfactory to both parties, assurance
of reasonable job security should be agreed upon mutually.
1. Actual working hours shall be defined as hours of duty during which employee
is not free to follow her own pursuits, or to go where she wishes.
2. Time on call is that time when the worker is not free to leave the house but
may rest or follow her own pursuits on the premises, being available for emer­
gencies. Two hours on call shall be equivalent to one hour of working time.
3. Total actual working hours shall not exceed 50 hours per week. A normal
working day shall not exceed 10 hours.
4. Employee shall have 24 consecutive hours off each week and also all day off
every other Sunday.
5. Overtime shall be compensated for by time off at the earliest reasonable
time that is mutually convenient. Overtime not compensated for as above shall
be paid for at the rate of time and a half.
One week with pay shall be given after 1 year of service, 2 weeks with pay
after 2 years of service.
At least four legal or religious holidays each year shall be given.
Wages shall be paid at a rate of not less than 65 cents per hour.
There shall be no reimbursement for carfare spent in reaching the place of
employment, unless the amount is more than normal transportation charges
within the city limits.
Inasmuch as usually the employee lives in only for the convenience of the
employer, no charge for room rent shall be deductible from employee’s wages.
Meals eaten by employee shall be charged for at cost, which amount shall be
arrived at by consultation between employer and employee. In no case should
such charge decrease cash wage received below a weekly minimum of $25 for full
time employment.
Employee shall dress in clothing suitable for the job.
they shall be furnished by the employer.

If uniforms are required,

Employee shall be covered on the job by accident or workmen’s compensation
insurance, paid for by the employer.



A health certificate from employee is recommended. Employer shall inform
employee if any member of family has communicable disease.
References shall be furnished by employee.
Sick leave up to 1 working day per month, for illness sufficient to prevent
employee from performing any duties of the job, shall be allowed without deduc­
tion in pay or vacation. This shall be cumulative for one year.
Where employee is required to live in, comfortable living conditions shall in­
clude: private room or one shared by another employee if necessary; access to
bath; adequate heat and light; comfortable chair.
Notice of one week or one week’s pay shall be given on termination of service
by either party, except in very unusual situations such as gross negligence en­
dangering life or property.

Household Employment Committee of Cincinnati

The Household Employees Standards Committee proposes to attract com­
petent women into household employment by establishing standards which will
compete with industry in the postwar labor market and by placing such women
in the homes where these standards are maintained.
Hours.—48-hour week exclusive of meals. Cleaning of own room to be in­
cluded within the 48 hours. These 48 hours to be used as employer and employee
decide. Time and a half for overtime, not to exceed 54 hours per week.
Two hours on call is equivalent to 1 working hour. Time on call is that time
during the day in which the worker is free to follow her own pursuits but is avail­
able to answ'er door bell and telephone, etc. Evening hours when worker may
entertain, retire, or otherwise follow her owrn pursuits but be available for emer­
gencies shall count as 3 for 1 actual working hour.
Workers may work 8 hours per day but not more than 10 hours in one day.
Wages.—Wages are based on 65 cents per hour for skilled workers, 50 cents for
semiskilled, and 45 cents for unskilled.
$31.20—Skilled workers.
$24.00—Semiskilled workers.
$21.60—Unskilled workers.
Employers to furnish uniform. .Health examination paid by employees.
Vacation.—One week with pay after 1 year of service. Two weeks with pay
after 2 years of service. Four of the national holidays or the equivalent to be
completely free. One week sick leave with pay per year.
Living conditions.—Private room adequately furnished; adequate access to and
use of bath; adequate and nutritious diet.
A written agreement, in duplicate, signed by employer and employee, shall in­
clude all the above items, plus: accurate job description, notice as to termination
of service, time off, use of telephone, church time, sick leave, workmen's compen­
sation insurance, and provision for periodic re-evaluation of the job and the
Same as for workers living in, except for the following provisions:
No room or bath furnished, but adequate room required if the worker is em­
ployed for a split shift. Written agreement to include statement on distribution
of 48-hour week.
Wages.—Skilled, 65 cents per hour including meals; semiskilled, 50 cents per
hour including meals; unskilled, 45 cents per hour including meals.
Wages.—Light housework: dishwashing, dusting, etc., 45, 50, and 65 cents
an hour; “sitter” or child watcher: 25 to 50 cents an hour; laundry: 45, 50, and 65
cents an hour; cleaning: 45, 50, and 65 cents an hour.



Household Employment Committee of St. Paul-Minneapolis

These standards were developed by the St. Paul-Minneapolis Employer-Em­
ployee Committee of the YWCA. The shortage of household workers, the
incompetence of some available workers, and the anticipation of a more acute
shortage of the future, make it necessary to attract more workers who are skilled
and intelligent. This cannot be done unless employers will offer household workers
working conditions that compare favorably with working conditions in industry.
Employers and employees have wanted a set of standards that would give
housework the status and desirability that it deserves.
The committees were fully conscious of the fact that the employers of domestic
service vary greatly in their economic condition and resources and therefore in
their ability to meet the standards proposed as to wages and working conditions.
It is also recognized that positions in domestic service vary widely in the demand
they make on the intelligence, the skill, and the time of the employee. It was, of
course, necessary to set standards for trained and skilled workers. Because of
the wide variation in the financial condition of household employers, however, the
committees have proposed standards as flexible rather than absolute or fixed
Some employers can and do exceed these standards; some are meeting them;
some are able to meet them but do not. Standards are suggested as to what would
constitue desirable working conditions for skilled and semiskilled workers. Un­
skilled mothers’ helpers naturally could not qualify for these standards, but stand­
ards as to definite and reasonable hours of work and fair wages should be considered
for them. These standards constitute general aims which all of us should, each
according to the circumstances, try to reach as far as possible.
A definite written agreement between employer and employee is suggested if
made out at time of employment and if periodically reviewed to meet changing
conditions. Both parties are to realize that emergencies require that such agree­
ment be flexible. (See attached form for working out same, together with a sug­
gested workable schedule.)
Regular duties shall be clearly defined on the basis of an analysis of the job to
be done within the hours limit agreed upon. A high standard of work shall be
expected in return for good wages and satisfactory working conditions.
The total working hours shall not exceed 54 hours per week. It may be neces­
sary to work more than 54 hours in some weeks, but the average for the month
should not exceed that amount.
1. Time on call is the time when an employee is not on active duty but must
answer the telephone, door bell, etc. Two hours on call should be the equivalent
of 1 hour of working time.




2. Hours entirely free for worker’s own personal life is the time when the worker
is entirely free from any responsibilities to the employer or the job.
3. Time of should be determined according to the individual schedule and is
computed on the basis of number of working hours per week.
4. Overtime.—Extra time off, preferably 1 week end a month, or additional pay
should be given for overtime.
The employee shall be allowed time off for four out of eight holidays, preferably
two out of each group.
First group: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Easter.
Second group: Lincoln’s or Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Fourth of
July, or Labor Day.
The employee will receive at least 1 week’s vacation with pay after she has
worked 1 year, 2 weeks’ vacation after 2 years’ service.
During this period of transition any wage scale is necessarily tentative. These
figures are based on comparable wages in industry at the present time,
1. Skilled worker—$18 to $25 per week plus room and board.
2. Semiskilled worker—$10 and up plus room and board.
(A worker who lives out should receive additional compensation. Room and
board is equivalent to $10 a week.)
A skilled worker is one who has the ability to plan and organize her time and
work, and who takes definite responsibility.
A semiskilled worker is one who knows various skills but needs supervision
and more training.
An employer should not expect untrained girls to be skilled, nor should un­
trained employees expect the pay of the skilled worker.
A worker should receive more pay as she becomes more skilled.
A. Adequate food.
B. A private bedroom—possibly with another employee. In case of the latter
there should be twin beds and adequate provision for privacy.
C. Access to the bath.
D. Spaces for personal possessions.
E. Adequate heat and light.
F. The employees’ entrance should be adequately lighted.
G. Adequate provision for entertaining friends.
Notice of 1 week should be given by employee on termination of service.
Notice of 1 week or 1 week’s pay should be given on termination of service by
The employer should carry some form of accident insurance to cover the em­
ployee in ease of accident. It is suggested that the employee be encouraged to
secure hospitalization.



The household employee should have a yearly physical examination and
present a health certificate to the employer when applying for a position; like­
wise, the employer should exercise reasonable care to safeguard the employee’s
Payment should be made preferably weekly. If payments are made monthly
4H weeks should be calculated to the month. Wages should be paid on the
day due.
Please re-read the introduction for a better understanding of these standards.
Your comments and suggestions will be most welcome. Please mail them to the
Committee on Household Employment, YWCA, Minneapolis or St. Paul.

Household Employment Committee of Syracuse, N. Y.

The committee agreed that one principal objection in the minds of employees
to household employment as compared with work in stores and factories is length
of hours and uncertainty as to free time. They stated that the importance of
intelligent limitation of hours and the assurance of more free evenings a week
cannot be overemphasized if we wish the occupation of household employment
to be made attractive to the girl who is seeking employment of some kind.
Standards agreed upon by this group of women were as follows:
A definite agreement, covering the points which follow, should be arranged
between employer and employee. It is recommended that this agreement be in
writing and that a copy be kept by both employer and employee.
Duties should be clearly defined and provision made for the possibility of
HOURS AND WAGES (for a girl “living in”)
The standard, based on the present cost of living, is a 50-hour week, exclusive
of lunch hours, with minimum wage of $15 for beginner. Allowing $10 for room
and board, this would be equal to a $25-a-week salary, which is in line with
raising the standards of household workers to factory and office workers.
Actual working hours shall be defined as hours of duty during which the worker
is not free to follow her own pursuits.
Time on call.-—Two hours “on call”—when employee must answer door bell,
telephone, etc., or be responsible for a sleeping child or meet the necessity of not
leaving the house entirely alone at night—shall be considered equivalent to 1
hour of working time.
Overtime.—When an employee works overtime, the employer should compensate
with equivalent time off within a week, or extra pay should be given on the basis
of rates per hour. Overtime in 1 week should not exceed more than 12 hours,
so that actual working hours shall not exceed more 'than 62 hours a week.
Payment should be made, preferably weekly or every 2 weeks; if paid monthly,
4J4 weeks should be calculated to the month. Wages should always be paid on
the day due.
It is suggested that 2 weeks’ vacation with pay be given after 1 year’s service.
It is suggested that four legal holidays be given out of the following seven:
New Year’s, Easter, Decoration Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving,



Comfortable living conditions should include adequate food and sufficient time
to enjoy the meal; separate room, access to bathroom, and schedule in use of
bathroom; adequate heat; clothes closet; comfortable chair; and place to entertain
In addition to 2 free evenings which go with the afternoons off, there should be
2 additional evenings off, making a total of 4 nights during the week when the
employee is free to go out. These 2 additional evenings should be established by
agreement on definite days of the week, subject to change on sufficient notice by
employer or employee.
HOURS AND WAGES (for a girl "living out”)
A 48-hour week with a minimum of $25 a week and payment for overtime are
PAYMENT, VACATION, AND HOLIDAYS (for a girl "living out”)
These should follow the same standards as those set for those living in.
Uniforms should be furnished by the employers, because it is felt that a uniform
will help raise the status of the job.
The name “servant” and “maid” should not be used, as these are the words
that mark the job. Suggested titles are: “household aide” or “household assist­
ant.” If the employee prefers, she is to be called by her last name.
A general worker by the hour shall be classified as general cleaning, dishwash­
ing, to be paid 50 cents an hour.
A skilled worker shall be classified as laundry, cooking, child care, serving, to
be paid 60 cents an hour.
Seventy-five cents for household assistance, which would include responsibility
for some operation of the home.
One week’s notice shall be given by both employer or employee.
Contract shall be renewed after 6 months’ service as an incentive for employee.
Realizing that the suggested payment here is minimum, a raise is advocated with
satisfactory service.

Household Employment Committee of St. Louis

In order that household employment may receive recognition as a dignified
occupation and that competent workers may be attracted into this field—standards
of hours, wages, and working conditions must be established which will compete
favorably with those of other industries. This is primarily the responsibility of
women, since they are both employers and workers in this occupation.

Wages.—A minimum of $18 per week with higher wages for those qualifying.
Overtime to be paid at an hourly rate.
Hours.—50 to 54 hours per week, with at least 24 consecutive hours off duty.
Additional hours of work shall be by mutual agreement.2
Vacation.—One week with pay after 1 year of employment, 2 weeks after 2
years or more. Four of the eight national holidays to be completely free.
Sick leave.-—Paid sick leave shall be accumulated at the rate of 1 day per month
after 6 months’ employment.
Living conditions.—A private room adequately furnished; adequate access to
and use of a bathroom; nutritious meals; access to a well-lighted entrance; some
provision for entertaining guests.
Same as for workers living in, except that the normal workweek shall be
48 hours.
General housework: Minimum, 50 cents an hour plus carfare with a higher rate
for special skills or heavier work.
A voluntary agreement (written or oral) between employer and employee is
recommended. This should include the above standards applicable to the
particular job, plus accurate job description, schedule of hours, notice as to ter­
mination of service, time off, workmen’s compensation insurance, uniforms, etc.
1 Published by Household Employers’ League of St. Louis, auxiliary of the committee.
1 Actual working hours are those during which the worker is not free to follow her own pursuits. Time on
call is time during which the worker is free to follow her own pursuits, but is available to answer the door
bell, telephone, or care for a sleeping child. Two hours on call shall count as 1 actual working hour.


Household Employers’ Leasue of Chicago

The Household Employers, League purposes to attract competent women into
household employment by establishing standards which will compete with industry
in the labor market and by placing such women in the homes of its members where
these standards are maintained.
Wages.—A minimum of $20 per week with higher wages for those qualifying.
Overtime to be paid at a minimum rate of 75 cents an hour.
Hours.—50 hours per week for a 5- or 5J4- day week. Additional hours by agree­
ment or in emergencies, not to exceed 60 in any week.
(Actual working hours are those during which the worker is not free to follow
her own pursuits. Time on call in the daytime is time during which the worker
is free to follow her own pursuits but is available to answer the door bell and tele­
phone. Two hours on call shall count as 1 actual working hour. Evening
hours when the worker may retire and be available only for emergencies shall
count as 3 for 1 actual working hour.)
A record of hours should be kept by the employee and submitted weekly to
the employer.
Vacation.—One week with pay after 1 year of service; 2 weeks after 2 years or
more. Four of the eight national holidays to be completely free.
Living conditions.—Private room adequately furnished; adequate access to
and use of bath; adequate and nutritious diet.
A written agreement in duplicate, signed by employer and employee, shall include
all the above items, plus: accurate job description, distribution of hours, notice as
to termination of service, time off, use of telephone, church time, sick leave, workmen’s
compensation insurance, uniforms, health examination, and provision for periodic
re-evaluation of the job and the worker.
Same as for workers living in, except that the normal workweek shall be 44
General housework.—A minimum of 75 cents an hour, with a higher rate of
pay for special skills or for heavier work.
Hours and wages.—18 hours of work per week in exchange for room and 2
meals per day (14 meals per week). 12 hours work per week for room and break­
fasts only. (Special arrangements may be worked out at similar rates.) Extra
work, if any, to be paid for at the rate of 75 cents per hour. Hours when worker
is “on call” count as half time.




The work and the worker.—Light housework only should be expected, such as
dishwashing, bedmaking, simple food preparation, care of school-age children,
or “baby-sitting.” (No laundry, heavy cleaning, skilled cooking or serving,
except by special arrangement.) Applicant should be a responsible person, of
mature age, with some housekeeping experience, and should supply two character
references. She should be able to fit her hours to the family schedule and require­
ments and should keep strictly to hours agreed upon.
The home.—Single room, strictly private and comfortably furnished, with
adequate use of bathroom, should be provided. Meals should be ample and
regular, eaten with the family, or food same as family’s eaten in a comfortable,
suitable place. Houfs of work should be accurately scheduled.
Note.—The Household Employers’ League reserves the right to amend these standards as experience
proves other standards to be more effective in accomplishing the purpose.

Industrial Committee of YWCA, Oakland, California

Hours. Working time: 54 hours per week or less for live-in employees; 8
hours per day for day workers.
Time off: 1% days per week or the equivalent (as 3 days in 2 weeks), or one
24-hour period per week for live-in employee.
Vacation with pay: 2 weeks at the end of each year’s employment; for less
than 1 year but more than 6 months, vacation to be at the rate of 1 day for each
month worked.
Wages.—To be determined by the skill, experience, and aptitude of the worker,
according to the job description. Wages should be for specified hours, with
adequate compensation provided for extra time, either as added pay or as time
off. It is suggested that the rate of pay cover carfare. Rate of pav would be
governed by prevailing wage scale.
Living conditions.—A private room attractively furnished, more as a sitting
room than mere sleeping quarters. It should have adequate heat, light, and
ventilation, and bathroom facilities. There should be a comfortable, wellequipped bed, a comfortable chair, good reading lights, and other appurtenances
which contribute to its being a pleasant place for the household worker to spend
her leisure time.
The food provided for the worker should be of the same quality as that used
by the family.
Provision should be made for the worker to entertain guests in a dignified
The worker should be prepared to dress in a. manner appropriate to the job.
If unusual or expensive uniforms are agreed upon, they are usually supplied by
the employer.


United Domestic Workers Local No. 1 348 (CIO), Washington, D. C.

The undersigned agree to the following:

Day work

Part time

Full time








Workers cannot wash windows, wax floors, or wash woodwork except to wipe


finger marks or spots.

Office Secretary

48 hours per week. $25 minimum wage.
cents an hour for day work or part time.

Time and a half for overtime.



SIZE OF HOUSE:____ _____

ACTION TAKEN:_________




ADDRESS:___________________________ _____
WORK EXPERIENCE:____________________

SPECIAL SKILLS:_________________________
HEALTH CARD? __________________________

ACTION TAKEN:_________________________

CHECK UP:______________________________