Beware the regulatory traps of home business

Just because you operate out of home doesn’t mean you can avoid rules and regulations.

By Jane Shelton

A friend of mine and his spouse are starting up a tourism B&B and have found it necessary to get a tourism license to operate. Sometimes state and council rules and can trip up an unwary home business person and can limit the type of business you can conduct at home.


You may need a license: the website gives a great overview of all the different license issues around Australia.


Council rules and regulations can also limit business operations such as the number of staff a small business can employ and how many people can work from a home office.


Then there are parking restrictions, manufacturing restrictions, council permit and licence requirements.


There are prohibitions on the use of hazardous chemicals or excessive noise levels in a residential zone that can preclude your business operating out of your home.


Check with what you can and can’t do with your local council and have a chat with your neighbours about what you are doing. More than likely, you’ll find other people in your street who are also working from home.


And don’t think that operating from home means that you escape occupational health and safety requirements.


Each home business owner must ensure the workplace is a safe place to work free of dangerous hazards – for staff and visiting clients and consultants.


You must keep up to date with Workcover premiums and check your State/Territory Workcover website to see their recommendations for safety in your industry. Keeping the workplace safe will save you money on premiums.


Do a workplace safety inspection to identify all potential hazards Check:

  • Access from the street to your home – check footpaths, driveway access and garden paths for obstructions such as hoses, and any stairs for unevenness
  • Access within the house to toilets and bathroom
  • Ergonomic furniture – heights for computer, chair for seating, desk heights
  • Heavy lifting
  • Adequate lighting
  • If handling and preparing food, make sure adequate hygiene standards are met


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