Author Topic: Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?  (Read 1246 times)

TheGadfly

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Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?
« on: February 07, 2023, 01:58:29 PM »
Does anyone have a FT job and independently consult on the side? Did you disclose it to your FT employer?

I've been working at a company for ~8 years as a mid-level analyst (I do public policy research).

For the last 3 years I've been consulting for tech startups on the side (i.e. entirely different industry). Up until now, I've been able to get clients through UpWork or referrals. I'm getting to the point where I want to build out my website and get more active in promoting my services through LinkedIn and other socials.

The thing that's stopping me is that, once I start marketing, my co-workers (all very active on LinkedIn) are going to figure out my side hustle. There's no conflict of interest between my FT and side jobs but I'm still anxious about how my FT employer will perceive this. My employer is in the business of providing objective policy research and is fairly vigilant about optics. For example, our employee handbook bars us from working at or serving on Boards of organizations that do any kind of advocacy work.

Obviously, I'm not doing any policy advocacy. My clients are also small names in tech. Still, should I tell my supervisor what I'm up to?

GilesMM

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Re: Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2023, 03:14:55 PM »
As long as there is no way this interferes with your job duties or could potentially harm your employer, probably not an issue. Still, best to disclose now rather than wait for a surprise issue to emerge.

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2023, 04:56:01 PM »
This likely depends on the policies of your employer. For my job, I'd be required to disclose this, or risk termination.

RWTL

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Re: Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2023, 05:15:07 PM »
Do others consult on the side for your employer?  It's fairly common in my line of work.  I disclosed it to my boss when I started consulting and I didn't have an issue.

SeattleCPA

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Re: Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2023, 11:07:19 AM »
@TheGadfly here's my perspective as a small business employer.

I work really hard to make sure that employees in my small CPA have good work-life balance while making a good living. And
I would worry someone running a sideline business would sabotage that work-life balance. E.g., someone's working weekends, burning out, and then Monday am sure they show up but they're always just a little more rundown than they'd be otherwise.

FYI, working in a professional services firm may be a special situation. But to make this not about your situation or my situation but about other situations we'd encounter... or see.

Think about the doctor you or I go to who's got a sideline gig. Do we really think she or he is going to be as good and up-to-date and alert enough for the level of care we want? I always wonder. Sorry.

Or another maybe inflammatory example... but if you've got some superstar player on the favorite sports team you're rooting for, how smart does it seem if that person is in another sport or running some sideline business that you swear detracts from their on-field performance. That just seems to dangeruss to their quality of play.

scantee

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Re: Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2023, 11:24:21 AM »
I would disclose. Do you have standard conflict of interest reporting? I worked for a policy research firm and we had to report possible conflicts of interest yearly. Add this to your reporting (or tell your manager during a 1:1), mention it is for businesses outside your field during non-working hours. Donít ask permission, tell them what you are doing and they can get back to you if they have a problem with it. The kind of consulting work you are describing was not a problem at the policy research outfit I worked for.

406MtnFire

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Re: Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2023, 08:40:09 PM »
I would not disclose to your business if you think in good faith you're still doing a "good job" and you're not stealing clients and IP from your business, then I don't think you're doing anything wrong.

IMO, it's none of your employers business what hobbies you do on the off hours for fun, charity, or for pay. I have rental property that my boss is not aware of. I also don't know the dividends in my boss's 401k last year.

I'd recommend marketing your side business with a general business name on LinkedIn and not "Jeff's Consulting LLC".  It will likely be more scale-able, sell-able, and less liability with a general name.  I would think you can personally share a consulting business on your LinkedIn and not risk major digging from co-workers. 

I heard a quote once that every entrepreneur goes through this same challenge, but if this is what is going to take a person down, then they weren't cut out for the real struggles of entrepreneurship.  Go for it.

Chris Pascale

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Re: Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2023, 04:33:36 PM »
I'm required to, to show there's no conflict of interest.

With past employers, I only did if the schedules interfered.

Metalcat

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Re: Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2023, 05:16:16 PM »
What does your employment contract say?? Did you have a lawyer review it to make sure you aren't violating it with external work?

Telecaster

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Re: Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2023, 05:48:26 PM »
IMO, it's none of your employers business what hobbies you do on the off hours for fun, charity, or for pay. I have rental property that my boss is not aware of. I also don't know the dividends in my boss's 401k last year.

I happen to agree, but many employers have policies against this sort of thing so the OP should be aware there might be some risk. 

dividendman

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Re: Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2023, 08:52:48 PM »
I wouldn't tell your employer. If you're a valuable employee they won't fire you even if they do find out.

You owe your employer nothing. If they think you're doing a bad job they can fire you. If they're keeping you on then you must be doing fine.

Your employment contract (if you have one) is crap and shouldn't be used to restrain what you can and can't do, even if it's written in the contract. Businesses break contracts all the time and will break theirs with you if it brings them more profit to do so, so you should operate similarly.

FINate

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Re: Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2023, 10:05:01 PM »
What does your employment contract say?? Did you have a lawyer review it to make sure you aren't violating it with external work?

^^^ Came here to say this. Read your employment agreement and the employee handbook. Some companies don't care as long as there's no conflict of interest and it's not negatively impacting your performance. Others take it a step further and want you to disclose. Still others strictly prohibit moonlighting, in which case you should stop your side hustle unless you don't mind being terminated from your primary job. 

Metalcat

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Re: Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2023, 05:06:43 PM »
I wouldn't tell your employer. If you're a valuable employee they won't fire you even if they do find out.

You owe your employer nothing. If they think you're doing a bad job they can fire you. If they're keeping you on then you must be doing fine.

Your employment contract (if you have one) is crap and shouldn't be used to restrain what you can and can't do, even if it's written in the contract. Businesses break contracts all the time and will break theirs with you if it brings them more profit to do so, so you should operate similarly.

Again, OP should consult a lawyer.

It's not cut and dry. Yes companies violate contracts all the time, but usually because they've consulted their lawyers and are fully aware of and okay of the potential consequences.

As someone who had multiple side hustles, I was extremely particular about the employment contracts I was willing to sign because of this. If there's *any* overlap in responsibilities and work product, there could be IP ownership problems.   

I agree that if someone is valuable, the consequences are less probable to come about, but circumstances can change, and suddenly willfully violating contracts can be used against someone.

nereo

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Re: Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2023, 05:26:21 PM »
What does your employment contract say?? Did you have a lawyer review it to make sure you aren't violating it with external work?

^^^ Came here to say this. Read your employment agreement and the employee handbook. Some companies don't care as long as there's no conflict of interest and it's not negatively impacting your performance. Others take it a step further and want you to disclose. Still others strictly prohibit moonlighting, in which case you should stop your side hustle unless you don't mind being terminated from your primary job.

Ditto
I disagree with others that itís never your employers business if you are working another job on the side. My entire department had non-compete and non disclosure agreements because we have specific and personal knowledge about the business and specific people that is not in the public sphere.

TheGadfly

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Re: Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?
« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2023, 09:56:11 AM »
Wow! I appreciate all of this helpful feedback.

I looked at my employment agreement again and it looks like I should disclose what I'm doing but outside employment is not prohibited. The agreement does not reference consulting (i.e. self employment) but my side hustle does seem to fall under the category of an outside financial interest that has the potential to give the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The employee handbook references several examples, including participating in technical work groups or teaching. I know for a fact that some of my colleagues do teach outside the org. It goes on to say that these opportunities often do not conflict or appear to conflict with the company's interest but they do require supervisor and division director approval.

thanks all!

StNick

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Re: Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?
« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2023, 08:52:21 AM »
I had a non-compete agreement explicitly laid out for me when I first started. They even tried to accuse me of violating it when I created a profile for Upwork. I would guess that you're fine if it hasn't been explicitly defined, but if getting fired from your FT job would be a huge hit then I would be very careful.

BicycleB

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Re: Should I tell my FT employer that I consult on the side?
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2023, 10:40:29 AM »
Post us on the outcome, and good luck

 

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