Sunday, March 15, 2020

Did your employer say you could work from home due to the Coronavirus scare? You need a permit for that!

by Rod Williams - Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many employers have closed the office and told employees to work from home. I have a couple members of my family working from home.  It you work with your hands or work in retail, working from home may not be an option, but almost all "desk jockey" jobs could be done from home.  With a phone and computer there are not many desk jobs that would actually require going to an office. It may require a change in mindset before that becomes a reality for most people doing office work, but there is little reason to go to an office. Even meeting can be conducted with teleconferencing.

Currently if you want to work from home and the work falls within certain guidelines, you can do so. The guidelines include that no more than one other employee who is not living in the dwelling can work out of that location, that the amount of the dwelling devoted to the home occupation is no more than 20% of the dwellings floor space, that you see no clients or customers at the dwelling and some other things.  This is all spelled out in section 17.16.250(D) of the Metropolitan Code of Nashville.

So, there is no problem working from home doing normal type office work, except you have to get a permit to do it.  See this:

So, pay $50 and jump through the hoops and you can legally work from home.

If I were you I wouldn't worry about it.  Ignore it. The only way the city would ever catch you is if a neighbor complained. There are thousands and thousands of people working from home without permits.  Anyway, I think a little breaking of the rules is good thing.  I want real crime controlled but resistance to irritating bureaucratic nanny state micromanaging of peoples lives is a healthy thing in my view. Anyway if everyone violating the rules did apply the system would be overwhelmed.

If you called to ask about a permit, they may tell you it wasn't intended for people like you but don't expect them to put that in writing. They may say they will have to call you back and never do.

There is a bill pending in the Metro Council that would change the rule so that people who meet the below requirements could legally work from home without a permit. It says the following:
a. Home occupations that meet both of the following conditions are not required to acquire a permit for activity under this section:
i. The home occupation does not serve customers on the property; and 
ii. The home occupation does not employ anyone who does not live within the dwelling.
In addition, another part of the  bill would legalize some home occupations that now are illegal and for which a person cannot even apply for a permit.   The neighborhood lady giving piano lessons in her home, or the lady with a one-chair beauty salon who sees no more than six customers a day, the accountant next door who does income taxes from home or the person with a home recording studio could operate legally if they met some pretty restrictive requirements and applied for a permit. To read the proposed bill, follow this link.

There are some people who could not afford to stay in their home if not for the income from their home occupation.  Working from home also reduces congestion and allows parents to spend more time with their children.  It also fills a need. Some people could not afford to go to a  commerical beauty shop or pay for piano lessons for their child or pay for a commercial tax preparer to do their taxes but they can afford the person down the street. Music City would not be Music City if not for all of the artist who got their start out of home recording studios. This is a good bill and deserves to pass.

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