With close to 800,000 domestic workers in the country, the oft-overlooked group of individuals is making the push to be recognized as true labor in the eyes of the law. Their rights have at least been acknowledged in New York state, but organizers are swimming against the current at the moment.

According to a recent report by the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance (NDWA), “Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work,” 23 percent of workers surveyed are paid less than the minimum wage; 48 percent of workers earn a wage below the level needed to adequately support a family; 10 percent of workers are victims of wage theft, including not receiving any wages at all; 23 percent reported being paid late, compounding the high burdens of low-wage work; and 25 percent of live-in workers had work responsibilities that prevented them from getting at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep at night in the week before being surveyed.

Over 2,000 domestic workers were surveyed in the study. The NDWA claims to have 10,000 domestic workers in their ranks.

In New York state, a domestic workers’ bill of rights was introduced in November of 2010 and includes a required day of rest every seven days; rights to overtime pay and time and a half when working over 40 hours a week; three paid days of rest every year after one year of work with the same employer; and protection under New York state human rights law.

The bill of rights is the only one of its kind in the country, but the NDWA study also states that domestic workers have to endure on a regular basis “verbal, psychological and physical abuse on the job, and because of the vulnerabilities they face, rarely have effective recourse.”

Also, domestic workers who are hired directly by their employers tend to have limited employment rights and can’t find remedies in federal law for employment discrimination, unsafe working conditions or constraints on their right to organize and bargain collectively. Solutions that the study alludes to include lifting the exclusion of domestic workers from all state-level minimum wage laws, adding domestic workers to workers compensation and unemployment programs and guaranteeing equal rights to overtime pay and meal and rest breaks. The NDWA also recommended that domestic workers be protected under all state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

But that fight gets harder and harder in some places. Several months ago, California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a domestic worker bill of rights, AB 889, that could’ve given domestic workers basic labor protections by extending rights such as overtime pay and meal and rest breaks to the child care providers, housecleaners and caregivers.

“It is a huge disappointment that Governor Brown chose not to recognize the people caring for California’s families and homes as real workers,” said California Domestic Workers Coalition Member Sylvia Lopez back in October. “For decades, we have tirelessly cared for California’s homes, children, the elderly and people with disabilities without the protection of basic rights.”