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I have a scenario where someone I know is up for a promotion within the next 12 mos. This person works at a larger software company, and would like to arrange a moonlighting allotment in order for them to pursue a (non-software related) small project that had shown promise in the past. I know that promotions usually come with changes in salary and responsibilities, and sometimes benefits, however, are changes in agreements, such as moonlighting, typically something that is negotiable? How hard can one reasonably push the envelope with this issue (given one isn't looking to change jobs)?

Additionally, Would it be better to negotiate with HR or the Manager first given that both are met with in the process of being promoted?

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  • Is negotiating possible? Of course it is. Will it be successful and who you should talk to in your organisation isn't something we can help you with, you know your organisation better than we do. Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 17:02
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    Is there anything that specifically forbids them from having other hobbies or income sources, if they don't compete with or use work knowledge/product/ideas? While it maybe be a good thing to disclose "I'm doing this moonlighting gig," why would this worker need their permission? Or is it closely related to what the company does? Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 17:06
  • @PoloHoleSet It is not related to the company's current offering, but is reasonably something that the company could invest in.
    – user53861
    Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 17:13
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    If the company isn't currently invested in it, then I can't see that they'd be able to make any demands on whether he could or couldn't do this. Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 17:22
  • Is the person fairly senior ?
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 17:49

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Pretty much anything that forms part of the compensation package (salary, bonuses benefits, vacation, perks, etc) is potentially up for negotiation.

Moonlighting (whether that's for outside paid work or for just time to spend on their own projects) is no exception - however, it's an area where you should probably have some answers prepared to the inevitable questions about how you see it working to ensure that it doesn't negatively affect the day job.

Promotions often bring additional work load and more time pressure rather than the reverse, so it could logically follow that moonlighting is going to be a drain on their ability to fulfill the promoted role.

Also deciding how strong a want this is - because it could risk looking like an attempt to step back, perhaps to de-risk a plan to leave for the "moonlighting" project full time if it takes off. And asking for it even if it's not given is going to carry that impression with it.

I'm not saying don't ask for it - just that it pays to examine all the angles before tipping your hand.

It's also worth assigning a personal value to it - if you don't get x-benefit, what would you accept instead? If they don't stump up the desired salary you can pitch the moonlighting as an alternative (or the other way around).

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however, are changes in agreements, such as moonlighting, typically something that is negotiable?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Many companies have policies around moonlighting (allowed, allowed with permission and disclosure if there is no conflict of interest, not allowed). Negotiating against a written policy or a contract that you already signed is still possible but is an uphill battle with questionable chances of success. Tip: start reading your employee handbook and/or your contract.

How hard can one reasonably push the envelope with this issue (given one isn't looking to change jobs)?

As stated above: Pushing against a written policy isn't going to make you any friends. If there is no policy you need to take your cues from the first feedback. Promotion is regarded as the company investing and believing in you. Asking for moonlighting might can be interpreted that the feeling is not mutual, so it's an odd time to bring it up. But then again, if your story is good enough, it may work.

Would it be better to negotiate with HR or the Manager first given that both are met with in the process of being promoted?

Start with learning about your company policies and any precedents that already exist. Armed with that information, talk to your manager first.

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