ASK HR: Why is my boss not happy about my side hustle?

Friday August 17 2018

My employer recently discovered this and was very mad at me, accusing me of using the company computer and internet for self-benefit. GRAPHIC | FILE


Q. For the last few months I have been having a side hustle which has greatly eased my financial burdens. My regular employment does not pay much, hence the reason for the side job. My employer recently discovered this and was very mad at me, accusing me of using the company computer and internet for self-benefit. Mark you I have never failed to deliver on my job and I only do this side assignment on break time and after work. He has threatened to let me go. Is he justified?


It would have been prudent to check what your employment contract stipulates.

Most contracts prohibit their employees from engaging in other employment or businesses unless with authority from management, especially where the business is in competition with the activities of current employer, this is to avoid conflict of interest.

However, some employers have no issue with their employees engaging in side hustles as long as they don’t compete with their business and are not done during working hours.

What you are doing is great as an employee as it gives you financial freedom and prepares you for a life when you might not be employed. The fact that you are engaging in your business during break time is not fair to your employer. Break time is to refresh you to be able to continue performing in your day job and not to engage in other activities.


You mention, that you are a good performer. Is that your perspective or does your supervisor share the same? Do you meet your key performance indicators? You need to discuss this further to find out if your performance is an area of concern.

You seem to have given up on improving your salary, why don’t you consider improving your skills, to position yourself for a promotion and future salary reviews.

If your salary is of such great concern have you considered sharing this with your supervisor? It is possible you are underpaid and it is better to try and fail than fail to give it an attempt.

You also need to be careful since the side hustle might jeopardise your current role. Analyse and find out if you can make ends meet with your side hustle, this then will guide you as you make the decision on what to do going forward.

If you still require your job, I would advise that you take a different approach by engaging in the side hustle during your free time and ensure that there is no conflict of interest.

However, word of caution ensure that you get enough rest and perform at your job as per the agreed standards so that the supervisor does not focus on you.

Not to scare you, but yes, he is justified especially if what you are doing is prohibited in your contract.