Employer approval for a side gig

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PlayingLife
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Joined: Sun Dec 29, 2013 3:10 pm

Employer approval for a side gig

Post by PlayingLife » Thu May 28, 2020 10:41 am

Looking for some basic advice here and thoughts on what sort of outcome I should expect.

I work as a manager in a relatively large organization. Typical work weeks are 55-60 hours and to the best of my knowledge I am considered a value added employee and my work ethic is respected and has never been challenged. I'm lucky to be known as a professional and as an employee in good standing.

I'm considering establishing an LLC with a trusted business partner to start selling goods as a side gig. Most of the day to day will be managed by my partner and I authentically am planning to sign on at this point as an investor and advisor/consultant. I would have an ownership stake in the venture. Per my employer's code of conduct, I must notify them of any type of ownership and/or employment with a secondary venture.

Truthfully I am familiar with the business we are looking to establish and I'm confident it will not interfere with my job requirements and will not reduce current time spent on the job. I've completed an MBA full time while working previously and I consider this less time intensive. The LLC would not be competitive in any way to my current employer and all resources and involvement with the LLC is completely independent of my current employer. In reality it would be great if the side gig works out but my priority is my current job. Worst case we walk away from the LLC with a fantastic learning experience that I can apply to the corporate world.

I assume this comes down to whether or not my employer trusts me to not detract time from my current position. What are your thoughts in the matter? Any particular language I should use or points I should make? How can I best position things to be granted permission?

knightrider
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by knightrider » Thu May 28, 2020 10:44 am

I wouldn't tell anybody unless you see value in raising eyebrows!

Olemiss540
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by Olemiss540 » Thu May 28, 2020 10:49 am

Did you sign a non compete?
I hold index funds because I do not overestimate my ability to pick stocks OR stock pickers.

carolinaman
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by carolinaman » Thu May 28, 2020 10:51 am

knightrider wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:44 am
I wouldn't tell anybody unless you see value in raising eyebrows!
IMO you need to inform your employer in accordance with policy. I would include some of the points you made in your original post. Not telling your employer could be a serious issue if they found out. Why take the chance?

fabdog
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by fabdog » Thu May 28, 2020 10:53 am

Per my employer's code of conduct, I must notify them of any type of ownership and/or employment with a secondary venture.
So if you don't tell them, and they find out, it has a high potential to end badly.

When I worked at Megacorp, we looked at these from 2 perspectives:

Are you selling the same skill Megacorp was paying you for? Those almost never got approved

Is this going to detract from your current performance that you're currently providing with 55-60 hours week?

If answer is no to both, you are safer telling them. Are you aware of others who've made a disclosure?

Mike

bampf
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by bampf » Thu May 28, 2020 10:53 am

PlayingLife wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:41 am
Looking for some basic advice here and thoughts on what sort of outcome I should expect.
Per my employer's code of conduct, I must notify them of any type of ownership and/or employment with a secondary venture.
I don't think you are asking permission (at least I wouldn't be). I think you would be notifying them that you have other businesses of a non competitive nature that you own, which is required by the code of conduct. If it were me, I would merely state "I am an investor in Acme.Corp with some supervisory activities. This firm does foo, which does not compete with my current position." And I would be done. No need to ask permission, no need to go into detail.

simas
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by simas » Thu May 28, 2020 10:55 am

carolinaman wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:51 am
knightrider wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:44 am
I wouldn't tell anybody unless you see value in raising eyebrows!
IMO you need to inform your employer in accordance with policy. I would include some of the points you made in your original post. Not telling your employer could be a serious issue if they found out. Why take the chance?
when in doubt -> there is no doubt. follow the policy.
depending on the industry, we had at least annual disclosure forms to complete (and on any change) that had to be signed off by manager and compliance department. that stuff went there. my employee (large bank/financial organization) did not care of your served on PTA, had a rental ,etc. they did care if you worked in same professional capacity elsewhere or in capacities that interfere with employment undertaken already with the corp.

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Watty
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by Watty » Thu May 28, 2020 10:59 am

PlayingLife wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:41 am
What are your thoughts in the matter?
If you are working from home even if they do not say anything there will be a lot of suspicion that you are working on the side business during the day when you should be doing company work.

I would be real cautious about trying to do this if you work from home.

Many companies can and will monitor the use of company computers and cell phones so I would be sure not to use any of those for your side business even after hours.

knightrider
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by knightrider » Thu May 28, 2020 11:03 am

simas wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:55 am
they did care if you worked in same professional capacity elsewhere or in capacities that interfere with employment undertaken already with the corp.
Any side gig is going to interfere with employment undertaken already with the corp. This includes a rental condo or being on the board of a PTA..

IMO this is none of their business. They can put whatever they want in their policy but it doesn't mean it is "correct".

fabdog
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by fabdog » Thu May 28, 2020 11:24 am

IMO this is none of their business. They can put whatever they want in their policy but it doesn't mean it is "correct".
that's certainly a way to approach it. OP didn't ask if it was correct, asked what they should do given that this is his employer's policy.

Given that many companies have these policies, the OP is assuming some level of risk in failing to disclose. Could OP go years and never have an issue? Sure. Could he be found out in 6 months and have an issue with his employer, which may be bad, really bad, or a termination? Sure.

So the best strategy given his companies rules is disclosure. If he decides his employers policy is not fair/correct, etc... he can find another employer

Mike

vtjon02
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by vtjon02 » Thu May 28, 2020 11:27 am

PlayingLife wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:41 am
Looking for some basic advice here and thoughts on what sort of outcome I should expect.

I work as a manager in a relatively large organization. Typical work weeks are 55-60 hours and to the best of my knowledge I am considered a value added employee and my work ethic is respected and has never been challenged. I'm lucky to be known as a professional and as an employee in good standing.

I'm considering establishing an LLC with a trusted business partner to start selling goods as a side gig. Most of the day to day will be managed by my partner and I authentically am planning to sign on at this point as an investor and advisor/consultant. I would have an ownership stake in the venture. Per my employer's code of conduct, I must notify them of any type of ownership and/or employment with a secondary venture.

Truthfully I am familiar with the business we are looking to establish and I'm confident it will not interfere with my job requirements and will not reduce current time spent on the job. I've completed an MBA full time while working previously and I consider this less time intensive. The LLC would not be competitive in any way to my current employer and all resources and involvement with the LLC is completely independent of my current employer. In reality it would be great if the side gig works out but my priority is my current job. Worst case we walk away from the LLC with a fantastic learning experience that I can apply to the corporate world.

I assume this comes down to whether or not my employer trusts me to not detract time from my current position. What are your thoughts in the matter? Any particular language I should use or points I should make? How can I best position things to be granted permission?
You absolutely need to inform your employer in accordance with the policy. If it is not competitive and you are a good performer it should be approved. I've done this before in a similar position to you as a very busy and well regarded employee. I sent something that was very similar to what you wrote above to my supervisor and then once I had approval went to the corporate department that was indicated. Even though it wasn't necessary for our policy, I wanted my supervisor's blessing.

I was looking to tutor students in unrelated fields to what my day to day job is. I got a little pushback and let them know that it was important to me. They specifically asked about what if I had a student scheduled and then a last minute obligation came up. I told them truthfully that I would reschedule the student and deal with any consequences of doing so - that my top priority was my full time employment. They asked why it was important and I said that it was partly financially motivated but more so that I wanted an outlet to use skills that I didn't get to use very often at work. That it made me feel good to so something that was not corporate. It was approved on a trial basis for a few months and then permanently thereafter.

I got more pushback later on when I was asked to be on the Board of my HOA. I used it as a convenient excuse to get off the HOA's radar.

In regards to your question, I think your post above lays out exactly what you need to say to your employer. That this is something that you will have a limited involvement with and is not competitive and that you can do in your free time. That your top priority is your job and that this is simply a way of using a few hours of your free time to make a little extra money.

simas
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by simas » Thu May 28, 2020 11:30 am

knightrider wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 11:03 am
simas wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:55 am
they did care if you worked in same professional capacity elsewhere or in capacities that interfere with employment undertaken already with the corp.
Any side gig is going to interfere with employment undertaken already with the corp. This includes a rental condo or being on the board of a PTA..

IMO this is none of their business. They can put whatever they want in their policy but it doesn't mean it is "correct".
sorry, do you want to be employed with them or not? 'correct'/'incorrect' , if you are not willing to follow their policy, find someone else with policy you like (or lobby to change it .. ).

also, A LOT depends on the industry - in tightly regulated industry you will disclose far more than these items, including consolidation of your accounts in their brokerage, duplicate statements for every account you and your partner has ,etc. don't like it? don't work in such industries (i.e. securities).

a huge amount of this has nothing to do with good/bad will of employee, these are federal laws related to things like anti money laundering, insider trading, etc. if you have income coming into any of your accounts (or accounts have access to or benefit from), your compliance would want to know and will check on it. if you have outsized gains, income, benefits, expect to be asked about it - related activity or not. i.e. if you are suddenly best e-bay trader ever selling $500 laptops for $50,000 that come with heartfelt handwritten note from you (with/without stock tips), yes this will be looked at .same for $1000 burgers, or your exceptional landlord success where people are willing to pay you 5X in rent for nice verbal chats once a week. especially if you have access to material non-public information

in such situation, loss of job and effective disbarment from the industry may be the least of your problems..

don't mess with this , if your policy states to disclose =>disclose.

knightrider
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by knightrider » Thu May 28, 2020 11:37 am

fabdog wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 11:24 am
So the best strategy given his companies rules is disclosure. If he decides his employers policy is not fair/correct, etc... he can find another employer

Mike
Every employer has these policies. So basically we should all agree to sign away our rights because we have no choice.

Topic Author
PlayingLife
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by PlayingLife » Thu May 28, 2020 12:03 pm

I appreciate all the comments here and think I likely need to go with my gut feeling.

I have never signed anything including a non-compete that would pose problems. But there is a "Code of Conduct" shared with employees post hire covering "Conflicts of Interest" which says I need to notify my employer of secondary employment or in taking an officer/board position. I've worked remote my whole life and my daily calendar is filled out in full a week in advance with all significant colleagues having access, so the truth is I have nowhere to hide during my 55-60 hours without the company immediately realizing it. Furthermore, 75%+ of my daily calls are with other colleagues anyway and I'm on the phone managing business/sales topics all day long. We cover B2B sales and my planned side gig is B2C sales managed by my partner with no competitive overlap, again with me as advisor/consultant.

So we'll see how it goes. I'd be really PO'd if the company took issue with this but at the same time I would not want to start something that turns successful, only to have my current employer legally dissolve the business due to me ignoring the code of conduct. Thanks for all the feedback.

mak1277
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by mak1277 » Thu May 28, 2020 12:15 pm

At my company, we terminate at least 5 or 6 people a year for not following company policy in terms of side businesses. It's really dumb (IMO) to risk you job by not informing the company.

anakinskywalker
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by anakinskywalker » Thu May 28, 2020 12:43 pm

knightrider wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 11:37 am
fabdog wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 11:24 am
So the best strategy given his companies rules is disclosure. If he decides his employers policy is not fair/correct, etc... he can find another employer

Mike
Every employer has these policies. So basically we should all agree to sign away our rights because we have no choice.
You have a choice. You can choose not to work for companies whose policies you don't like.

But if you choose to agree, and legally confirm your agreement by signing the policy, you must follow what you agreed to follow.

Read carefully and make sure you understand, before signing anything. Keep a copy of what you sign, and take a look periodically to make sure you remember your promises obligations duties and commitments (and rights). Otherwise be prepared to deal with the consequences of violating the signed commitments you have made, which can include termination for cause, and civil or criminal prosecution, depending on the circumstances.

Also remember, once you are terminated for cause you will very likely not be hired again in future by any respectable/reputable employer. Be prepared to support yourself the rest of your life with "side gigs" only.

Contracts are legal documents, not a joke.

Anakin
Last edited by anakinskywalker on Thu May 28, 2020 12:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Pomegranate
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by Pomegranate » Thu May 28, 2020 12:49 pm

simas wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 11:30 am
knightrider wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 11:03 am
simas wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:55 am
they did care if you worked in same professional capacity elsewhere or in capacities that interfere with employment undertaken already with the corp.
Any side gig is going to interfere with employment undertaken already with the corp. This includes a rental condo or being on the board of a PTA..

IMO this is none of their business. They can put whatever they want in their policy but it doesn't mean it is "correct".

a huge amount of this has nothing to do with good/bad will of employee, these are federal laws related to things like anti money laundering, insider trading, etc. if you have income coming into any of your accounts (or accounts have access to or benefit from), your compliance would want to know and will check on it. if you have outsized gains, income, benefits, expect to be asked about it - related activity or not. i.e. if you are suddenly best e-bay trader ever selling $500 laptops for $50,000 that come with heartfelt handwritten note from you (with/without stock tips), yes this will be looked at .same for $1000 burgers, or your exceptional landlord success where people are willing to pay you 5X in rent for nice verbal chats once a week. especially if you have access to material non-public information

in such situation, loss of job and effective disbarment from the industry may be the least of your problems..

don't mess with this , if your policy states to disclose =>disclose.
Small note - unless you’re a politician :mrgreen:
If you are, then $100k for 60 min lecture is perfectly fine :sharebeer

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ResearchMed
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by ResearchMed » Thu May 28, 2020 12:49 pm

PlayingLife wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:41 am
Looking for some basic advice here and thoughts on what sort of outcome I should expect.

I work as a manager in a relatively large organization. Typical work weeks are 55-60 hours and to the best of my knowledge I am considered a value added employee and my work ethic is respected and has never been challenged. I'm lucky to be known as a professional and as an employee in good standing.

I'm considering establishing an LLC with a trusted business partner to start selling goods as a side gig. Most of the day to day will be managed by my partner and I authentically am planning to sign on at this point as an investor and advisor/consultant. I would have an ownership stake in the venture. Per my employer's code of conduct, I must notify them of any type of ownership and/or employment with a secondary venture.

Truthfully I am familiar with the business we are looking to establish and I'm confident it will not interfere with my job requirements and will not reduce current time spent on the job. I've completed an MBA full time while working previously and I consider this less time intensive. The LLC would not be competitive in any way to my current employer and all resources and involvement with the LLC is completely independent of my current employer. In reality it would be great if the side gig works out but my priority is my current job. Worst case we walk away from the LLC with a fantastic learning experience that I can apply to the corporate world.

I assume this comes down to whether or not my employer trusts me to not detract time from my current position. What are your thoughts in the matter? Any particular language I should use or points I should make? How can I best position things to be granted permission?
From your post:

"Per my employer's code of conduct, I must notify them of any type of ownership and/or employment with a secondary venture..."

You really have no choice unless you want to retire early or such...
(And if you do, you should do that with more grace and professionalism...)

Hope it is truly a "notification" and not viewed as "permission" etc.
Clearly you have a track record that would support this!

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

LeftCoastIV
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by LeftCoastIV » Thu May 28, 2020 12:56 pm

I was offered a compensated advisory role at a start-up. I followed the MegaCorp policy for moonlighting, and the request was approved. I valued my full-time role more than the advisory role, and thus ensured I followed the rules.

knightrider
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by knightrider » Thu May 28, 2020 12:58 pm

anakinskywalker wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 12:43 pm

But if you choose to agree, and legally confirm your agreement by signing the policy, you must follow what you agreed to follow.
Not if you signed "nonsense". Nonsense is not enforceable in a court. Just because you signed it, doesn't make it enforceable.

mak1277
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by mak1277 » Thu May 28, 2020 1:11 pm

knightrider wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 12:58 pm
anakinskywalker wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 12:43 pm

But if you choose to agree, and legally confirm your agreement by signing the policy, you must follow what you agreed to follow.
Not if you signed "nonsense". Nonsense is not enforceable in a court. Just because you signed it, doesn't make it enforceable.
Yes, but a company terminating someone for violating it's code of conduct isn't "nonsense", even if you don't agree with what's in the code.

TravelGeek
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by TravelGeek » Thu May 28, 2020 1:27 pm

mak1277 wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 12:15 pm
At my company, we terminate at least 5 or 6 people a year for not following company policy in terms of side businesses. It's really dumb (IMO) to risk you job by not informing the company.
Out of curiosity... is that a mega corp? And what are the scenarios?

When I was a manager at a mega corp, we had the same notification/approval policy. I think I received one approval request in many years; one of my team members who wanted to write a technical book that sort of related to our work (and actually was beneficial to the company). Of course, I approved.

I knew of many other employees with side hustles of some sort. One guy was running a weekend event photography “business”. Another was buying and reselling on eBay. A few bloggers that likely had Google ads on their sites and perhaps some Amazon referral links. I doubt they all asked for approval, but it probably would have been a good idea just in case.

wootwoot
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by wootwoot » Thu May 28, 2020 1:29 pm

Don't ask don't tell.

anakinskywalker
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by anakinskywalker » Thu May 28, 2020 1:38 pm

mak1277 wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 1:11 pm
knightrider wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 12:58 pm
anakinskywalker wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 12:43 pm

But if you choose to agree, and legally confirm your agreement by signing the policy, you must follow what you agreed to follow.
Not if you signed "nonsense". Nonsense is not enforceable in a court. Just because you signed it, doesn't make it enforceable.
Yes, but a company terminating someone for violating it's code of conduct isn't "nonsense", even if you don't agree with what's in the code.
True. Also I have so far never seen a reputable company asking employees to sign "nonsense". Nor have I seen anything non-enforceable.

I'd recommend anyone who thinks they are being asked to sign something un-enforceable or "nonsense" to speak with a lawyer to make sure their understanding is correct. It would be far cheaper to do so before-hand than to hire a lawyer after getting sued for violating what they thought was "nonsense".

If you sign something, you are responsible for making sure you understand what you signed.

Anakin

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tvubpwcisla
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by tvubpwcisla » Thu May 28, 2020 1:39 pm

What you do in your spare time is your business.
Stay invested my friends.

knightrider
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by knightrider » Thu May 28, 2020 1:44 pm

anakinskywalker wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 1:38 pm
True. Also I have so far never seen a reputable company asking employees to sign "nonsense". Nor have I seen anything non-enforceable.
Requiring employees to disclose side gigs is nonsense IMO. As another poster mentioned earlier, almost nobody does it anyways. So why bother having the rule?

cherijoh
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by cherijoh » Thu May 28, 2020 1:59 pm

bampf wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:53 am
PlayingLife wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:41 am
Looking for some basic advice here and thoughts on what sort of outcome I should expect.
Per my employer's code of conduct, I must notify them of any type of ownership and/or employment with a secondary venture.
I don't think you are asking permission (at least I wouldn't be). I think you would be notifying them that you have other businesses of a non competitive nature that you own, which is required by the code of conduct. If it were me, I would merely state "I am an investor in Acme.Corp with some supervisory activities. This firm does foo, which does not compete with my current position." And I would be done. No need to ask permission, no need to go into detail.
I worked for a megacorp with the same policy (for all I know if could be the same Megacorp). The policy as written was that you must seek approval... That sounds like "asking permission" to me. Perhaps the OP's policy has less restrictive language but the OP may also be paraphrasing the content.

PlayingLife wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:41 am
I work as a manager in a relatively large organization. Typical work weeks are 55-60 hours and to the best of my knowledge I am considered a value added employee and my work ethic is respected and has never been challenged. I'm lucky to be known as a professional and as an employee in good standing.

I'm considering establishing an LLC with a trusted business partner to start selling goods as a side gig. Most of the day to day will be managed by my partner and I authentically am planning to sign on at this point as an investor and advisor/consultant. I would have an ownership stake in the venture. Per my employer's code of conduct, I must notify them of any type of ownership and/or employment with a secondary venture.

Truthfully I am familiar with the business we are looking to establish and I'm confident it will not interfere with my job requirements and will not reduce current time spent on the job. I've completed an MBA full time while working previously and I consider this less time intensive. The LLC would not be competitive in any way to my current employer and all resources and involvement with the LLC is completely independent of my current employer. In reality it would be great if the side gig works out but my priority is my current job. Worst case we walk away from the LLC with a fantastic learning experience that I can apply to the corporate world.

I assume this comes down to whether or not my employer trusts me to not detract time from my current position. What are your thoughts in the matter? Any particular language I should use or points I should make? How can I best position things to be granted permission?
Your comment about " whether your employer trusts you or not" comes across as a bit defensive so I wouldn't bring that up in the discussion. ("What? You don't trust me?" from the lying spouse is a cliche for a reason).

I think you need to reassure them that your main role is an investor and that you have a partner to handle the day-to-day business dealings.

Hopefully, you and your partner will be doing any consulting nights and weekends so that it doesn't interfere with focusing on your day job. If this is true, I would make that a key point - that you won't be using company resources (phone, copier, computer, etc) or your work hours to work on the outside business.

I'm not sure what types of products you would be selling, but I would be very careful with who at work you tell about the business. You don't want your employer thinking you are viewing your fellow employees as a potential customer base. The company may tolerate someone posting their kid's Girl Scout cookie order form in the breakroom, but frown if you posted your business' brochure or a print out from the website.

Using your ability to get an MBA while working full-time is a good example of your time management skills. But remember - your employer may have seen a benefit to them for you to get an MBA. That will not be the case with this outside venture.

Even though I worked for a company with a similar policy, I never tested it out myself. It is hard to tell whether this policy is CYA or if it is so stringently enforced that they would veto someone wanting to start a dog walking business with their kids as the primary dogwalkers.

bampf
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by bampf » Thu May 28, 2020 2:09 pm

cherijoh wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 1:59 pm
bampf wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:53 am
PlayingLife wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:41 am
Looking for some basic advice here and thoughts on what sort of outcome I should expect.
Per my employer's code of conduct, I must notify them of any type of ownership and/or employment with a secondary venture.
I don't think you are asking permission (at least I wouldn't be). I think you would be notifying them that you have other businesses of a non competitive nature that you own, which is required by the code of conduct. If it were me, I would merely state "I am an investor in Acme.Corp with some supervisory activities. This firm does foo, which does not compete with my current position." And I would be done. No need to ask permission, no need to go into detail.
I worked for a megacorp with the same policy (for all I know if could be the same Megacorp). The policy as written was that you must seek approval... That sounds like "asking permission" to me. Perhaps the OP's policy has less restrictive language but the OP may also be paraphrasing the content.
Probably a fair point. That being said, if OP sells pharmaceuticals and is starting a dog grooming business, OP wouldn't really be seeking approval, regardless of what the code of conduct says. Same thing with a car wash. The intent of the policy is (likely) to avoid conflict of interests and competition with the employer. Banks don't want you in the mortgage broker business as a side gig. They may not even want you in the real estate sales. I doubt that anyone could legitimately construct and enforce a policy that says you can't sell sugar cookies on Saturdays from your food truck. Finally, my pedantic response aside, better to disclose (and seek permission if that is the policy) than to not ask and get hammered.

sean.mcgrath
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by sean.mcgrath » Thu May 28, 2020 2:12 pm

knightrider wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 11:03 am
They can put whatever they want in their policy but it doesn't mean it is "correct".
This is true. Just because it is in the policy does not mean it is valid or that you are bound. Is it also in your contract?

In any case, I have had numerous employees in this situation over the years. I have approved all that weren't conflicts of interest. My advice is the same as an earlier poster: send an e-mail to HR and your boss, informing them that you are investing in the venture, and explaining the activities of the new business.

cherijoh
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by cherijoh » Thu May 28, 2020 2:17 pm

TravelGeek wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 1:27 pm
mak1277 wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 12:15 pm
At my company, we terminate at least 5 or 6 people a year for not following company policy in terms of side businesses. It's really dumb (IMO) to risk you job by not informing the company.
Out of curiosity... is that a mega corp? And what are the scenarios?

When I was a manager at a mega corp, we had the same notification/approval policy. I think I received one approval request in many years; one of my team members who wanted to write a technical book that sort of related to our work (and actually was beneficial to the company). Of course, I approved.

I knew of many other employees with side hustles of some sort. One guy was running a weekend event photography “business”. Another was buying and reselling on eBay. A few bloggers that likely had Google ads on their sites and perhaps some Amazon referral links. I doubt they all asked for approval, but it probably would have been a good idea just in case.
I'm not Mak1277, but a coworker (from my team at a former employer) was fired when it came to light that he was doing technical consulting. He had recently switched to our division, but was consulting in an area closely related to the technology in his previous division. I'm fairly certain it started as "cease and desist" and escalated to termination when he refused to stop consulting and claimed it wasn't any of the company's business what he did during his non-working hours.

I don't recall any formal policies on outside work at that company, but there were definitely policies in place related to intellectual property being owned by the company, not the individual employee. FWIW, they had lots of employees with side hustles totally unrelated to the company without any issues. Having a clear policy of disclosing every outside side hustle may not lead to 100% compliance, but it gives the company a clear justification to fire someone when they have an attitude like that of my ex-coworker.

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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu May 28, 2020 2:30 pm

The choice is yours, but to get ahead of it, I would absolutely ask permission of my employer and get it in writing. Nearly every company I've worked for as an engineer has required prior approval to do anything extra. As a new engineer, right out of college, looking to buy a house, I asked permission to work weekends at a gas station. They said yes. Good thing, because the gas station manager called my manager to ask about me.

Or say nothing, like the Facebook software engineer making huge money whose youtube channel started to draw viewers. Facebook found him and fired him on the spot.

Do a search on "software engineer fired from ______ youtube". You'll get lots of stories from all the FAANG companies.
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mak1277
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by mak1277 » Thu May 28, 2020 2:51 pm

sean.mcgrath wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 2:12 pm
knightrider wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 11:03 am
They can put whatever they want in their policy but it doesn't mean it is "correct".
This is true. Just because it is in the policy does not mean it is valid or that you are bound. Is it also in your contract?

In any case, I have had numerous employees in this situation over the years. I have approved all that weren't conflicts of interest. My advice is the same as an earlier poster: send an e-mail to HR and your boss, informing them that you are investing in the venture, and explaining the activities of the new business.
You're not going to have much luck fighting a termination for violating the Code of Ethics...even if the part you violated is "nonsense". Employment at will, and all.

mak1277
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by mak1277 » Thu May 28, 2020 2:54 pm

TravelGeek wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 1:27 pm
mak1277 wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 12:15 pm
At my company, we terminate at least 5 or 6 people a year for not following company policy in terms of side businesses. It's really dumb (IMO) to risk you job by not informing the company.
Out of curiosity... is that a mega corp? And what are the scenarios?

When I was a manager at a mega corp, we had the same notification/approval policy. I think I received one approval request in many years; one of my team members who wanted to write a technical book that sort of related to our work (and actually was beneficial to the company). Of course, I approved.

I knew of many other employees with side hustles of some sort. One guy was running a weekend event photography “business”. Another was buying and reselling on eBay. A few bloggers that likely had Google ads on their sites and perhaps some Amazon referral links. I doubt they all asked for approval, but it probably would have been a good idea just in case.
Fortune 1000 company.

Admittedly, most (but not all) of the scenarios involve a conflict of interest situation. But we have definitely had others where the person was terminated primarily because they failed to notify.

I mean, we all realize this sort of thing is going on. We all realize that there are probably employees with side gigs that really are conflicts of interest. The question is, as the employee, are you willing to roll the dice that you're not going to get caught? Are you willing to roll the dice that you never cross a co-worker who is petty enough to rat you out (that's how we normally discover these things)? Is it worth your career not to ask for preapproval and make yourself bulletproof?

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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu May 28, 2020 3:09 pm

Beyond your employment, if unvested RSUs are part of your comp., forget those also.

DW’s employer has a cadre of lawyers who make sure that employment contracts meet legal and regulatory standards, specify in detail the grounds for termination, disclosure requirements, etc. DW thinks really well on her feet, can be eloquent when necessary, and is “wicked smart” as they say around here, but I don’t see her going in with a position that the employment contract was filled with “nonsense” and so she just decided to adhere to it “ala carte.”
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by TravelGeek » Thu May 28, 2020 3:28 pm

tvubpwcisla wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 1:39 pm
What you do in your spare time is your business.
Uh, I am not a lawyer, but that sounds like a very broad claim that probably wouldn’t get you very far. I can think of a lot of things you could do in your spare time that your employer would legitimately have a problem with.

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tvubpwcisla
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by tvubpwcisla » Thu May 28, 2020 3:42 pm

TravelGeek wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 3:28 pm
tvubpwcisla wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 1:39 pm
What you do in your spare time is your business.
Uh, I am not a lawyer, but that sounds like a very broad claim that probably wouldn’t get you very far. I can think of a lot of things you could do in your spare time that your employer would legitimately have a problem with.
Yeah, I agree. I could see them having issues with certain things.
Stay invested my friends.

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unclescrooge
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by unclescrooge » Thu May 28, 2020 9:35 pm

vtjon02 wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 11:27 am
PlayingLife wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:41 am
Looking for some basic advice here and thoughts on what sort of outcome I should expect.

I work as a manager in a relatively large organization. Typical work weeks are 55-60 hours and to the best of my knowledge I am considered a value added employee and my work ethic is respected and has never been challenged. I'm lucky to be known as a professional and as an employee in good standing.

I'm considering establishing an LLC with a trusted business partner to start selling goods as a side gig. Most of the day to day will be managed by my partner and I authentically am planning to sign on at this point as an investor and advisor/consultant. I would have an ownership stake in the venture. Per my employer's code of conduct, I must notify them of any type of ownership and/or employment with a secondary venture.

Truthfully I am familiar with the business we are looking to establish and I'm confident it will not interfere with my job requirements and will not reduce current time spent on the job. I've completed an MBA full time while working previously and I consider this less time intensive. The LLC would not be competitive in any way to my current employer and all resources and involvement with the LLC is completely independent of my current employer. In reality it would be great if the side gig works out but my priority is my current job. Worst case we walk away from the LLC with a fantastic learning experience that I can apply to the corporate world.

I assume this comes down to whether or not my employer trusts me to not detract time from my current position. What are your thoughts in the matter? Any particular language I should use or points I should make? How can I best position things to be granted permission?
You absolutely need to inform your employer in accordance with the policy. If it is not competitive and you are a good performer it should be approved. I've done this before in a similar position to you as a very busy and well regarded employee. I sent something that was very similar to what you wrote above to my supervisor and then once I had approval went to the corporate department that was indicated. Even though it wasn't necessary for our policy, I wanted my supervisor's blessing.

I was looking to tutor students in unrelated fields to what my day to day job is. I got a little pushback and let them know that it was important to me. They specifically asked about what if I had a student scheduled and then a last minute obligation came up. I told them truthfully that I would reschedule the student and deal with any consequences of doing so - that my top priority was my full time employment. They asked why it was important and I said that it was partly financially motivated but more so that I wanted an outlet to use skills that I didn't get to use very often at work. That it made me feel good to so something that was not corporate. It was approved on a trial basis for a few months and then permanently thereafter.

I got more pushback later on when I was asked to be on the Board of my HOA. I used it as a convenient excuse to get off the HOA's radar.

In regards to your question, I think your post above lays out exactly what you need to say to your employer. That this is something that you will have a limited involvement with and is not competitive and that you can do in your free time. That your top priority is your job and that this is simply a way of using a few hours of your free time to make a little extra money.
Do you also get permission to join fantasy football leagues or watch a Monday might football? I would level both as being more dispruptive than anything else.

As long your work doesn't interfere with your employment I don't see how this is any of their business?

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unclescrooge
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by unclescrooge » Thu May 28, 2020 9:39 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 2:30 pm
The choice is yours, but to get ahead of it, I would absolutely ask permission of my employer and get it in writing. Nearly every company I've worked for as an engineer has required prior approval to do anything extra. As a new engineer, right out of college, looking to buy a house, I asked permission to work weekends at a gas station. They said yes. Good thing, because the gas station manager called my manager to ask about me.

Or say nothing, like the Facebook software engineer making huge money whose youtube channel started to draw viewers. Facebook found him and fired him on the spot.

Do a search on "software engineer fired from ______ youtube". You'll get lots of stories from all the FAANG companies.
He was pulling $1 million in YouTube revenue and bad mouthing his employer. His was looking to get fired.

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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by Small Savanna » Thu May 28, 2020 9:47 pm

As a possible work-around, your spouse could take the side gig and you could occasionally provide her and her business partner with free advice, but without having a formal ownership or management role.

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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by TomatoTomahto » Fri May 29, 2020 7:12 am

Small Savanna wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 9:47 pm
As a possible work-around, your spouse could take the side gig and you could occasionally provide her and her business partner with free advice, but without having a formal ownership or management role.
Nothing like a good conspiracy to deceive for fosterIng feelings of trust among friends and spouse. :oops:
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by BruinBones » Fri May 29, 2020 8:31 am

simas wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 11:30 am
knightrider wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 11:03 am
simas wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:55 am
they did care if you worked in same professional capacity elsewhere or in capacities that interfere with employment undertaken already with the corp.
Any side gig is going to interfere with employment undertaken already with the corp. This includes a rental condo or being on the board of a PTA..

IMO this is none of their business. They can put whatever they want in their policy but it doesn't mean it is "correct".
sorry, do you want to be employed with them or not? 'correct'/'incorrect' , if you are not willing to follow their policy, find someone else with policy you like (or lobby to change it .. ).

also, A LOT depends on the industry - in tightly regulated industry you will disclose far more than these items, including consolidation of your accounts in their brokerage, duplicate statements for every account you and your partner has ,etc. don't like it? don't work in such industries (i.e. securities).

a huge amount of this has nothing to do with good/bad will of employee, these are federal laws related to things like anti money laundering, insider trading, etc. if you have income coming into any of your accounts (or accounts have access to or benefit from), your compliance would want to know and will check on it. if you have outsized gains, income, benefits, expect to be asked about it - related activity or not. i.e. if you are suddenly best e-bay trader ever selling $500 laptops for $50,000 that come with heartfelt handwritten note from you (with/without stock tips), yes this will be looked at .same for $1000 burgers, or your exceptional landlord success where people are willing to pay you 5X in rent for nice verbal chats once a week. especially if you have access to material non-public information

in such situation, loss of job and effective disbarment from the industry may be the least of your problems..

don't mess with this , if your policy states to disclose =>disclose.
Yes, if you are a respected employee, then Megacorp and you should be more interested in illegal Conflict of Interest with a side gig than anything else.

vtjon02
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by vtjon02 » Fri May 29, 2020 10:19 am

unclescrooge wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 9:35 pm
vtjon02 wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 11:27 am
PlayingLife wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:41 am
Looking for some basic advice here and thoughts on what sort of outcome I should expect.

I work as a manager in a relatively large organization. Typical work weeks are 55-60 hours and to the best of my knowledge I am considered a value added employee and my work ethic is respected and has never been challenged. I'm lucky to be known as a professional and as an employee in good standing.

I'm considering establishing an LLC with a trusted business partner to start selling goods as a side gig. Most of the day to day will be managed by my partner and I authentically am planning to sign on at this point as an investor and advisor/consultant. I would have an ownership stake in the venture. Per my employer's code of conduct, I must notify them of any type of ownership and/or employment with a secondary venture.

Truthfully I am familiar with the business we are looking to establish and I'm confident it will not interfere with my job requirements and will not reduce current time spent on the job. I've completed an MBA full time while working previously and I consider this less time intensive. The LLC would not be competitive in any way to my current employer and all resources and involvement with the LLC is completely independent of my current employer. In reality it would be great if the side gig works out but my priority is my current job. Worst case we walk away from the LLC with a fantastic learning experience that I can apply to the corporate world.

I assume this comes down to whether or not my employer trusts me to not detract time from my current position. What are your thoughts in the matter? Any particular language I should use or points I should make? How can I best position things to be granted permission?
You absolutely need to inform your employer in accordance with the policy. If it is not competitive and you are a good performer it should be approved. I've done this before in a similar position to you as a very busy and well regarded employee. I sent something that was very similar to what you wrote above to my supervisor and then once I had approval went to the corporate department that was indicated. Even though it wasn't necessary for our policy, I wanted my supervisor's blessing.

I was looking to tutor students in unrelated fields to what my day to day job is. I got a little pushback and let them know that it was important to me. They specifically asked about what if I had a student scheduled and then a last minute obligation came up. I told them truthfully that I would reschedule the student and deal with any consequences of doing so - that my top priority was my full time employment. They asked why it was important and I said that it was partly financially motivated but more so that I wanted an outlet to use skills that I didn't get to use very often at work. That it made me feel good to so something that was not corporate. It was approved on a trial basis for a few months and then permanently thereafter.

I got more pushback later on when I was asked to be on the Board of my HOA. I used it as a convenient excuse to get off the HOA's radar.

In regards to your question, I think your post above lays out exactly what you need to say to your employer. That this is something that you will have a limited involvement with and is not competitive and that you can do in your free time. That your top priority is your job and that this is simply a way of using a few hours of your free time to make a little extra money.
Do you also get permission to join fantasy football leagues or watch a Monday might football? I would level both as being more dispruptive than anything else.

As long your work doesn't interfere with your employment I don't see how this is any of their business?
I look at this in a very simple way. My work treats me with incredible respect. They pay me well, give me excellent benefits and have rewarded and contributed to my success. I want to show them the same respect by complying with their rules. The handbook says to seek permission for outside employment and directorships, so I comply. It doesn't mention fantasy football because that would be as stupid as your analogy.

There is a certain amount of bullshit and box checking in corporate America. In my experience it has been well worth it.

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8foot7
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by 8foot7 » Fri May 29, 2020 10:32 am

bampf wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:53 am
PlayingLife wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:41 am
Looking for some basic advice here and thoughts on what sort of outcome I should expect.
Per my employer's code of conduct, I must notify them of any type of ownership and/or employment with a secondary venture.
I don't think you are asking permission (at least I wouldn't be). I think you would be notifying them that you have other businesses of a non competitive nature that you own, which is required by the code of conduct. If it were me, I would merely state "I am an investor in Acme.Corp with some supervisory activities. This firm does foo, which does not compete with my current position." And I would be done. No need to ask permission, no need to go into detail.
This. Don't ask for permission, just inform them of this. If that's the language.

If it's worded as "seek permission" or "submit for approval" then I might, might might wait until there was actual revenue/profit in this venture before disclosing. Lots of stuff like this never gets off the ground, despite best intentions and I don't know that my first course of action would be to alert the corporate bureaucracy (including HR) every time I wanted to start a new hobby--and face it, most small businesses are hobbies, most lose money, and most fizzle before anything ever happens.

When it starts making money then you'll probably need to decide whether or not this is a small side gig that you have no intention of growing further or whether you need to invest more time in growing it, at which point you'll likely also be deciding whether to continue with your current employment or not.
Last edited by 8foot7 on Fri May 29, 2020 10:53 am, edited 2 times in total.

knightrider
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Re: Employer approval for a side gig

Post by knightrider » Fri May 29, 2020 10:34 am

unclescrooge wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 9:39 pm
Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 2:30 pm
Do a search on "software engineer fired from ______ youtube". You'll get lots of stories from all the FAANG companies.
He was pulling $1 million in YouTube revenue and bad mouthing his employer. His was looking to get fired.
This video is a joke. Also in the video he said HR asked him to stop and he refused.

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