Believe it or not, I’ve seen people get fired because they were freelancing or moonlighting on the side of their day job.
These people shouldn’t have been shocked when they were fired.
The problem is, many people never consider that what they do for extra income on the side can end up causing them to lose their main source of income.
Things To Consider Before Freelancing
Extra income is a wonderful thing. I’ve even advocated that people try to make some extra income on the side, especially if they’re trying to pay off debt.
Just make sure that before you start trying to make money on the side that you’re not breaking any laws where you live or violating any policies at work. Why? It’d suck to lose your job just to make a couple of extra bucks!
Why Employers Care About Freelancing And Moonlighting
You would think employers wouldn’t care about what you do in your free time, but that isn’t always the case. The first and most common complaint your employer may have about freelancing or moonlighting is the fact that you’d be directly competing with your employer.
For instance, when I worked in public accounting, I was prohibited from providing any type of accounting service to anyone other than friends and family.
They didn’t want me directly competing with them for work. In fact, they’d prefer that I refer any potential clients directly to the firm.
Another common complaint employers have with freelancing and moonlighting is the fact that you won’t be available to work whenever they need you to.
By tying up your time outside of work with a side business, you’re decreasing the amount of time you would have available to come into work in an emergency situation.
Having less potential time to devote to work isn’t the only concern employers may have. Many employers are concerned that if you’re freelancing or moonlighting that you aren’t focusing solely on your work.
While others might think about work problems when they’re at home in the evening, freelancers and moonlighters are probably thinking about their side business.
Given all of these problems, how can you make sure that you won’t get fired for your freelancing or moonlighting business?
How To Check Your Employer’s Rules
You can’t find out for sure if your freelancing or moonlighting business will get you fired or not unless you ask your employer directly before you start.
If you want to ask before starting a side business, I suggest you ask your direct supervisor as well as your human resources department. Between those two people, you should have a solid answer as to whether or not you’re allowed to work on the side.
If you already have a side business and don’t want to risk getting fired by asking, there are a couple of places you should look.
First, go back and read all of the documents you signed when you started working for your employer. Normally, if you’re prohibited from freelancing, your paperwork will tell you.
The other place you can check is your company’s policy manuals. There should be a copy somewhere in your office.
If you don’t have one, check with your human resources department. If you work for a larger company you should be able to find this information on the company intranet site.
Do you freelance or moonlight on the side? If so, are you worried it could get you fired? Did you look to see if you’d be breaking any laws or company policies before you started freelancing? Let me know in the comments below!
Lance Cothern, CPA holds a CPA license in Indiana. He’s a personal finance, debt and credit expert that writes professionally for top-tier publications including U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Investopedia, Credit Karma, Business Insider and more.
Additionally, his expertise has been featured on Yahoo, MSN, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, The Huffington Post, Fast Company, Kiplinger, Reuters, CNBC and more.
Lance is the founder of Money Manifesto. He started writing about money and helping people solve their financial problems in 2012. You can read more about him and find links to his other work and media mentions here.