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Should You Tell Your Boss About Your Side Hustle?

Having some sort of side hustle in addition to your day job has become more and more commonplace here in the UK.  In fact, 25% of the working population have some sort of extra income coming in on the side.  No matter what your side gig is, it’s a smart move both for your wallet and for your career.

The question niggling at the back of our minds, however, is do you need to tell your boss about it? Are you legally, or ethically obliged to?  What impacts could it have if you do?

There are a few things to consider when trying to decide to tell your day job about your side hustle. Let’s dig into them.

Are you contractually obliged to get their permission?

Your first step should be to check your employment contract.  Some employers have clauses stating you are not allowed to pursue any other work or business opportunities outside of work unless you have written permission to do so.  This doesn’t stop you from having a side hustle, it just means you need to go through the necessary channels to get permission so you don’t lose your primary job.

Most smart employers these days understand that making some extra money on the side is a common pursuit and so you shouldn’t really have much difficulty getting permission unless what you are wanting to do is in direct competition with your employer.  This leads us on to our next point…

Is your side hustle a conflict of interest?

If your side hustle is connected to the industry your employer operates in then there may be a conflict of interest you need to address. Of course, if you work at a bank, for example, and your side hustle is embroidering children’s clothes then you’re pretty safe. But if you are using the same skills you use for your day job for your side hustle then it might be worth having a quick chat with HR about what you are planning to do.

You do not have to give every detail of what you are doing, just a broad outline so they can give you a steer of what is and what isn’t acceptable to the company.  This way you can be confident that you’re not going to jeopardise your current job but can still utilise your skills in the field you know best for a little extra cash on the side.

How is your relationship with your boss?

If you’ve got a good trusting relationship with your boss then you may very well want to tell them about what you are up to outside of work.  And the savvier of you may realise that if you mention anything on social media about your side hustle then it’s almost inevitably going to get back to your place of work anyway, so why not tell them.

You still need to be careful, however.  No boss, no matter how friendly, is going to want to think that your priorities lie elsewhere, or find you sneakily working on another project during working hours.  Making it clear that you know the boundaries and have no intention of stepping over them is always a good idea.

Do you feel anxious not telling your boss about your side hustle?

For some the thought of telling their bosses about their side hustle wouldn’t even cross their minds, “What I do in my free time is up to me” they’d say. For others, on the other hand, there may be that guilty feeling lurking in the pit of your stomach that you’re doing something you shouldn’t, and telling your boss so you’re not hiding anything may make you feel better.

Wrapping up

Honestly, whether you tell your boss about your side hustle or not, is very much down to the individual, but in my opinion, if you have any anxious feelings around the subject, it’s better to clear them up than to have them eating at you and potentially stopping you from pursuing a side hustle you really love.

About Anita Forrest

Anita Forrest is a Chartered Accountant, spreadsheet geek, money nerd and creator of www.goselfemployed.co - the UK small business finance blog for the self-employed community. Here she shares simple, straight-forward guides to make self-employment topics like taxes, bookkeeping and banking easy to understand.