I am a part time employee at a company based in California. I have a client I work for in my spare time, to make a bit more money. The client is in a completely different field of my employer.

My client is looking for a c++ programmer to take on some very small tasks part time. My work colleague is an extremely good programmer and perfect for the job. With covid, I knew his hours were lower because there is just less work for us to do.

I messaged him on slack asking him if he'd be interested in this work and if I could refer him to the client. He said yes. I assumed that he would ensure that any additional work relationships would comply with his contact.

Even though I think what I did was ok, especially due to covid, I can't help but wonder if what I did is frowned upon for some reason. I'm living in the USA but I'm not an American National. Maybe I'm missing something culturally.

  • Where is this idea coming from? Has anyone made a remark to that extent, or is this just a hypothetical question and not an actual issue you’re experiencing?
    – AsheraH
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 22:39
  • @AsheraH no one has said anything in this case, but I've had employment contracts that stop me from working for a competitor for several years after leaving, or encouraging colleagues to leave too. And I've had an acquaintance be in big trouble for working for a client directly instead of the employer and taking colleagues with him. Anyway I know in some cases it isn't the best idea to get colleagues involved in other work stuff if its somehow possibly related.
    – eipi
    Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 7:39

3 Answers 3


In my eyes you did something good: you referred your colleague friend to a side job that could benefit them and give them some extra income in these hard times.

It is up to your colleague now to ensure that the job is not in conflict with their contract, non-compete, etc.

The only thing I wouldn't have done is message them via Slack. I assume that Slack is your company's Slack Channel, so it would have been better to message them via other means (whatsapp, email, phone call, etc.).

Besides from that, I see nothing wrong in what you did, and I think is perfectly fine to refer contacts to other people you know (Networking I think they call it ;).

  • 5
    Right. Never, ever use company communication channels for anything questionable. You get their phone number/direct email and contact them that way.
    – HenryM
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 2:12
  • Thanks for this. I would have contacted him directly if I'd had a means to. With remote working due to covid I didn't have any non work means of contact. I messaged him on slack asking for his email address and he asked why and i ended up explaining it there anyway.
    – eipi
    Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 7:44
  1. READ your employment contract, offer letter, HR policies or handbook and specifically any non-compete & confidentiality agreements you have signed. These spell out what you can or can not do. Many contain some rules that cover moon lighting: not allowed, allowed, allowed with approval, no solicitation, etc. Comply with the rules.
  2. NEVER use company resources for a side business

Even though I think what I did was ok,

It doesn't matter what you think. It only matters if you have violated a company policy or an agreement that you have signed.


It's risky to involve your day job with your moonlighting in any way.

Generally you don't take risks without a concrete gain to yourself. It's fine to help others on a personal level and probably everything will go smoothly, so since it's already been done, there's no point worrying about it now.

But in future you should always bear in mind that a professional referral that doesn't work out can reflect on yourself. Especially with people at your place of employ, that just gives it an added level of risk.

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