Document:California Press Release 19 January 2000 Cal-OSHA Stay Out of Our Homes

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400 Capitol Mall, Suite 900
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 449-3941
For immediate release: January 19, 2000
For additional information:
Juan Ros, Executive Director
Phone: (818) 782-8400

Libertarians warn Cal-OSHA: "Stay out of our homes"

SACRAMENTO -- The Libertarian Party of California has joined a chorus of protesters against a new federal policy that would make employers responsible for home office workers -- a policy that has been widely criticized but may still be implemented by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the party announced today.

"Lock your doors and shut the blinds: this policy is an outrageous invasion of privacy and a dangerous extension of regulatory power," declared Libertarian state chair Mark Hinkle. "Despite assurances that government bureaucrats won't be inspecting private home offices, Libertarians are skeptical that Cal-OSHA will keep its word. This policy needs to be abolished immediately."

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration posted an advisory notice on its web site in November declaring employers responsible for providing "safe and healthful working conditions" for home-based employees -- despite never having received a single safety complaint from home office workers or telecommuters. After business groups attacked the advisory, Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman withdrew the advisory from OSHA's web site.

But in a commentary published in Saturday's Los Angeles Times, Cal-OSHA Los Angeles area regional manager Dan Shipley acknowledged that state policy is no different: "The California Labor Code says that every employer shall furnish a place of employment that is safe and healthful. That means that the little home office that an employee sets up with his employer's blessing is an extension of office headquarters," Shipley said.

Libertarians disagree. "Cal-OSHA is ignoring the criticism aimed at the federal OSHA and is asserting the same claim of regulatory authority and employer responsibility. Rather than recognize that more regulations will kill jobs and reduce workplace flexibility for employees, Cal-OSHA would rather embark on a power grab and make life more difficult for employer and employee alike," Hinkle noted.

Although OSHA pulled the online advisory to quell the protest, the federal policy remains in effect -- giving Cal-OSHA more of a reason to move into action and implement the new home-office rules.

"Libertarians have one thing to say to Cal-OSHA regulators: stay out of our homes, literally and figuratively," Hinkle concluded. "Employers and home office employees should be free to make whatever workplace arrangements they want without having to worry every time the doorbell rings."