OSHA Pulls Plug on Work At-Home Advisory

Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman made a statement yesterday that OSHA is pulling the advisory because it has caused unnecessary conflict.

One day after OSHA's policy concerning at-home workers hit the headlines and stirred up debate among business and labor groups, Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman made a statement saying OSHA is pulling the advisory.

An advisory letter sent by OSHA in mid-November to an employer in Texas explained that companies who let employees work at home are responsible for federal health and safety violations at home.

Herman said the letter has caused much unnecessary conflict and therefore OSHA is withdrawing the letter as of Wednesday.

"OSHA's Nov. 15, 1999 letter to one employer provided guidance to him on his employees working at home. While this employer has received the guidance he needs, the letter has caused widespread confusion and unintended consequences for others," said Herman.

In a statement Tuesday, Herman called for a national dialogue to determine what the rules and policies should be for America's workers given the changing nature of work in the 21st century.

Herman said she spoke individually with business and labor leaders over the past two days and will host a meeting with those groups and other interested individuals in the future.

"As part of this continuing effort, I will ask the National Economic Council to convene an interagency working group, including the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration and others, to examine the broad social and economic effects of telecommuting," said Herman.

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