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If I allow my employer to pay for my Linux Academy subscription and I use that to gain the knowledge for not only doing the job I was hired for and to obtain certifications, can they claim rights or ownership of that certification?

I am looking to secure several Cloud Provider Certifications by next spring and want to use those for consulting to earn a second income. My concern is if I accept the "benefits" provided by my employer can they restrict whom I help as a consultant?

EDIT: Yes, I have a non-compete in force for their competition. That states should I leave I cannot take employment from their direct competition within the same field of specialty. But no other restrictions defined by the employer.

  • Thank you @JoeStrazzere. This remains the same if they pay for the official test(s) as well? – S_R Oct 18 at 21:30
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    The company has no power to take your certification away. They can require that you stay working with the company for X amount of time or you need to repay the cost of the certification. Depending on where you are a non-compete may be enforceable, but I am not lawyer and this isn't legal advice. – jcmack Oct 18 at 21:36
  • Have you read your contract? It may already say that you're not allowed to have two jobs at the same time? That being said, are you sure you're an employee of your current employer and not just a contractor? – Stephan Branczyk Oct 19 at 3:54
  • If there is a non-compete agreement in place, then it depends (a) on the exact content of the non-compete agreement, which we don't know, and on the laws in the country where you are, which we also don't know, and on your or your employer's willingness to go to court over it, which we also don't know. – gnasher729 Oct 19 at 10:07
  • The non-compete is based up on my leaving the organization and not to interact with companies offering same/similar products within the same field. – S_R Oct 21 at 20:56
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You have a duty of loyalty to your employer. Regardless of benefits provided by your employer and regardless of a non-compete agreement, you likely cannot pursue additional employment that creates conflicts of interest (e.g., creating a choice for a client to hire you or your employer for similar services).

I suggest pursuing side hustles that are in a totally different domain than your day job, unless you have explicit permission from your employer. Your employer could decide to terminate your employment or pursue a civil suit for damages if there is overlap between your consulting opportunities and your day job.

  • "Yes, I have a non-compete in force for their competition. But no other agreements." If he has a non-compete, but not other agreement, he's not an employee, he's a contractor. – Stephan Branczyk Oct 19 at 4:58
  • @StephanBranczyk I don’t think there is a meaningful difference here between a contractor and an employee. In both cases there is a strong precedent that the employer and employer/contractor fall within the category of principle-agent relationships - you must act in the best interest of the employer, especially in cases where your own interests may conflict. – Jay Oct 19 at 14:54

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