Contracting on the side...ethical?

Subject: Contracting on the side...ethical?
From: Geoff hart <ghart -at- attcanada -dot- ca>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, "'anonfwd -at- raycomm -dot- com'" <anonfwd -at- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2000 09:52:09 -0400

Anonymous now treads on shaky ethical ground: <<I am employed for a
start-up company as a technical writer. I was approached by someone who works
for another in my building, to see if I would be interested in
contracting with them for technical writing work. Is it unethical to consider
doing this?>>

There are obvious things to consider, the first being whether you could do the
new job without harming your work for your current employer (i.e., you'd have
to arrive at work rested, without carpal tunnel syndrome from too much writing,
able to do overtime if required). Next, ask yourself whether working for the
other company would involve a conflict of interest (e.g., if you'd
inadvertently expose confidential information, you'd be aiding a competitor,
you'd be unable to meet their deadlines because of deadlines imposed by your
main job). Third, does anything in your current contract prohibit such

When I joined my current employer, I made it clear to both my bosses that I was
doing occasional freelance editing, and that I retained the right to continue
doing so provided that (i) it didn't interfere with my day job and (ii) that if
there was the least suggestion of conflict of interest, I'd get their
permission before proceeding. It's worked well for me thus far.

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- netcom -dot- ca
Pointe-Claire, Quebec, Canada
"Most business books are written by consultants and professors who haven't
spent much time in a cubicle. That's like writing a firsthand account of the
Donner party based on the fact that you've eaten beef jerky."--Scott Adams, The
Dilbert Principle

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