Workforce Development

Off to Work from Home: Lifting Restrictions on Home-Based Businesses

Disneyland might be the “Happiest Place on Earth,” but for much of 2020 and 2021 it more closely resembled Limbo for over 30,000 of its workers. Following the park’s closure on March 14, 2020, Disneyland employees waited to hear when or if they would be recalled from furloughs and COVID-induced layoffs. While some finally returned to work in April 2021 when the park partially reopened, for others, the wait continued until June 2021 when the park fully reopened. Such waiting games are expensive, so in a show of resourcefulness that would make Walt Disney himself proud, some Disneyland and Disney World employees turned to side hustles to make ends meet.

Two Disney workers are among the founders of a Facebook group called Ear for Each Other. The group provides “a space where furloughed and impacted Cast can showcase their side hustles” to help the Disney employee community “keep the lights on.” With nearly 200,000 members, the group is a strong platform for Disney employees to share their work, which has included mouse-shaped benches, cupcake kits, and mural paintings. 

Millions of Americans also used side hustles and gigs to make ends meet during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like their Disney counterparts, these workers often used their homes as the base of operations for their businesses. Now, more than 50% of American businesses operate from residential dwellings, and an unprecedented 200 million Americans work from home. 

States should examine their home business laws and regulations to ensure there are not unnecessary barriers hindering these entrepreneurs. Passed at the 2020 States and Nation Policy Summit, ALEC’s Home-Based Business Fairness Act contains guidelines to ease restrictions on “no-impact home-based businesses.” This model policy would allow people to keep their no-impact home-based business in their house without having to apply for a “permit, license, variance or other type of prior approval.” It also protects neighbors from inconsiderate, unsafe, or unhealthy infringements. 

These types of reforms might have helped Marietta Grundlehner, who lost her LuLaRoe business in 2018 due to home-based business restrictions in Virginia. After fighting her county for two years in court, she was ordered to stop both clothing sales and storing inventory at her house.

Luckily, some states—including Oklahoma and Iowa—are considering legislation this year that would help people like Marietta and the Disney workers keep their home businesses open. By removing unnecessary home-based business restrictions, states can ensure that people continue to be able to, as Walt Disney said, “keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things.”

For more information regarding no-impact home-based businesses policy, please email Gretchen Baldau at

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