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Side Hustle or Conflict of Interest: How Your Side Hustle Can Land You in Trouble

With the rapid increase in remote employment and incredible digital advancements, workers have more opportunities to pursue side hustles than ever before. Getting that second job could be the key to achieving your financial objectives; be it paying off credit cards, purchasing a home, or setting aside money for your child’s education. However, if you find yourself in a position to pursue a side job apart from your primary employment, be aware, some businesses prohibit employees from taking on additional jobs.


Can my job fire me for my side hustle?

A company cannot legally discharge a worker on the grounds of their race, gender, religion, or any other protected class. However, most employment contracts are at-will agreements, which permit employers to terminate employees for any cause other than those noted. Therefore, it may be grounds for firing if your employer declares you are not allowed to work a side job. Though, despite this understanding, most businesses won't outright ban side jobs. Instead, they’ll limit the type of side work you’re allowed to do.


It's not unreasonable for a company to demand that you refrain from working a side job for a rival industry. Let's imagine you work in marketing and want to increase your income by doing some marketing-related side jobs. If you perform the same kind of tasks for a rival business, your employer can claim that there is a conflict of interest. Your employer might counter that you'd be exploiting the skills the company helped you build to the advantage of a competitor's business.


On the other hand, suppose you work in marketing and want to start a side business tutoring math because you are extremely gifted at it. That's probably not the kind of job your employer will object to or forbid you from accepting.


Whatever your motivation for having a side business, here are some things to be mindful of:


It Could Be Against Company Policy

Your side business may compete with your full-time job, depending on the terms of your employment contract. When a worker accepts a position, many employers ask them to sign non-disclosure or non-compete agreements.


The former ensures that you won't work for a rival company while at your current employment or for a specified amount of time after; the latter ensures that you won't utilize trade secrets to increase your own or another company's profits. Before you start a side business, check the terms of your contract, if you have one, to make sure you haven't agreed to any limitations.


Be discreet here too; you don't want to break your word or put yourself in danger legally, but you also don't want to alert your employer to the fact that you're considering taking on a part-time job.


You Might Find Yourself Stealing Work Time

To make their side business successful, you need to invest a lot of time. This can be more difficult than it appears, especially if you work a full-time job. What will you do if your side hustle picks up and you need additional time to finish projects or fulfill orders?

It could be alluring to take advantage of some open time, particularly if work is sluggish. Avoid giving in to this urge. Receiving compensation from your company to work on your own project is not only immoral, but it is also possible that you will be discovered. Even if your employer doesn't monitor employee email or internet use, there's a chance you can accidentally expose yourself.


Forgot something in the printer? Sent an email to the wrong person? These simple mistakes might land you in hot water.


You Could Be Dipping into Much-Needed Overtime

Keep in mind that, especially during busy seasons of the year, "full-time" can entail working more than 40 hours per week. If your side business consumes all your free time, you may be missing the ability to work overtime at your day job.


Even if you want to make your side job your full-time job, you'll likely want to maintain a solid working relationship with your current company until then. This entails planning ahead of time to exceed expectations in your position.


It Could Undermine Your Reputation

Our society is seeing a rise in the prevalence of side hustles, which are frequently viewed as indicators of an enterprising spirit. But before you begin your new career, it's important to consider whether your personal brand could be at risk. How might your second job harm your standing at your primary employment? The public's opinion of your side gig vs the brand identification of your primary employer will determine everything.


For example, your primary place of employment is a doctor's office, but you are considering taking on a part-time job at an alcohol or tobacco firm. Or what if you work in a school, but you have an Only Fans account. These jobs don’t blend well.


You Could Get Burned Out on Both Jobs

Burning the candle at both ends when starting something new is typical, but you can't do it indefinitely. You must also sleep, exercise, eat well, and spend time with loved ones. If not, you'll probably grow weary of both of your jobs. Overworking can result in job burnout, which raises your risk of both physical and mental problems.

Keep in mind that you established this side business to improve your life, whether it be by increasing your income or developing a new profession. You won't be able to accomplish your goals by sacrificing your health.


In the end, you need to ensure your side hustle doesn’t become a problem for your current employer. Do this by checking any documents you may have signed upon hiring – be it a non-compete clause, employee manual, or employment contract. It might behoove you to get written approval from your company HR representative to have a side business. It will protect you from unforeseen issues with management. Just be careful.

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