18

I plan to resign from my current Company A to move to Company B. However, I am currently on a very tight project deadline to launch a critical project. I am the only person who can perform the duty. My notice period is just 3 weeks, and I don't think a knowledge transfer can be done effectively within this period incase they can find a replacement.

Questions:

  • Do you think it's a wise idea to tell my employer that I am willing to take the project on a freelance/consultant basis? Everything can be done remotely, I will just continue as is. How to negotiate that they would agree?
7
  • 45
    So you have a full time job on this current project. You plan to work full time at company B. THEN you plan to also work full time as a consultant? Do you think company B will be happy? Will their contract allow external work? Will you even mention that as part of your interview / onboarding?
    – Solar Mike
    Oct 24 at 7:12
  • 77
    "I am the only person who can perform the duty." Every time I see a statement like this on here, I'm always reminded of the quote "The cemeteries are full of indispensable people." Oct 24 at 14:57
  • 9
    @Laconic Droid Employees leave / die often. Companies fail often. Sometimes those two things are connected, sometimes not. But it is a very dumb company which treats its employees like replaceable parts. Oct 24 at 15:02
  • 13
    @JoeStevens. And also the one that doesn't. The moment a company has no contingency plan for an "irreplaceable" employee leaving, it's screwed. Oct 24 at 23:05
  • 8
    @MadPhysicist My point is, there are absolutely companies which have falied due to the loss of key staff, and there are very few companies which could survive losing all of their key staff en masse. Companies do their best to cope, sure, but they ignore retention at their peril. Oct 25 at 3:04
84

I am the only person who can perform the duty.

Not your problem, not your fault, and not yours to assess.

do you think it's a wise idea?

Probably not. You changed jobs which means your priority should be company B, not A. Firstly you need to check your contract and the policies of company B. Some companies outright forbid moonlighting and many require specific permit. In any case, it's not a great way to start your new job.

Freelancing also creates a lot of overhead: a new contract needs to be created, drafted and signed, payment terms are often rough, you need to create a statement of work and a quote, the company needs to generate and approve a PO (purchase order) and you also need to take a close look at your legal liability and tax situations. You need a charge enough to cover your overhead but that may be perceived as greedy.

If you can push out your start date with B, the easiest way would be to offer a longer notice period. Notice periods can be anything you want as long as both parties agree.

6
  • 14
    Offering a longer notice period does seem the simplest solution, and one that's reasonable to all parties: it allows for a plenty of knowledge transfer, doesn't require OP to moonlight or work extra hours, gives a clean break with the old employer, and then allows OP to give the new employer their full attention.
    – gidds
    Oct 24 at 22:07
  • 22
    Disagree with postponing starting at company B. It’s not OP’s fault he is so irreplaceable. He probably wanted to start at company B for good reasons. And company B is his future. There’s little to gain for OP by sticking around. Oct 25 at 6:12
  • 3
    I think it depends by how much we are talking. Any reasonable company should be OK with a new employee starte some weeks later because they want to leave on good terms with their old company. Remember, anyone that is hired now will leave at some time in the future.
    – Manziel
    Oct 25 at 13:46
  • 1
    I think your reasons given on why not to do it are a lot of ifs. Depending on location and under some legislations (non-US here!), companies may actually be required to grant you any request for freelancing / secondary employment unless there'a very, very valid reason why you may not. I also think all the overhead stuff is completely arbitrary - things like contract crafting and signing are one-and-done, payment terms are also contractually noted and even taxes aren't necessarily too difficult with some preparation. And usually, youre able to charge much more in this situation to make it worth
    – Joe
    Oct 25 at 20:53
  • 2
    Offering a longer notice period probably is the decent thing to do, but let's not forget that company A negotiated a notice period of just 3 weeks when hiring OP—probably because they saw OP as easily replaceable. Would they now be proposing a longer notice period if the shoe were on the other foot and the company wanted to terminate employment but OP was not yet ready to leave (e.g. because new employment was not yet lined up)? Of course they wouldn't.
    – eggyal
    Oct 26 at 1:15
14

I did this exact same thing, and it worked out splendidly. I had a calm 1:1 meeting with my superior at the time, and told them that I would be handing in my resignation.

When asked about the state of the current project, I said that I am open for continuing a reduced schedule as freelance worker on the side of my new job (make sure your new position is okay with this!). I offered this as a fair and optional way to smooth out any issues and make sure that the project doesn't collapse. They accepted without reluctancy, and we talked about technicalities.

End of the story, the "temporary" solution turned out to be going for over one and a half years now without ousting me, as the company cannot spare additional developers to onboard into this project, but doesn't even need to as everything is running very smoothly.

Just make sure that the new company is a-ok with it, set reasonable time limits for yourself and for your freelance project, and make sure there is no issues with your current and upcoming NDA.

6
  • 1
    I've done this too, successfully, but instead of moving on to be employed at another company, I started freelancing full time, and my old employer was my first client at a reduced schedule and working remotely(obv with only one client you have to be careful with tax laws and meeting the criteria of 'freelancer'), I picked up a couple of additional clients within 3 months or so.
    – stanri
    Oct 26 at 7:21
  • 1
    It's great that you are doing this but you are missing key points in your answer. There is a % chance that new company may fire employee on the spot (not hire them) based on them asking for something like this. I would for instance. Some guys comes and works for me and asks to side-work somewhere else? See ya. Also if you are not hourly how do you prove your worth when working for another company. Now if you said you would be a consultant or there to answer questions at a max of 5-10 hours a week... I don't know maybe... cont
    – blankip
    Oct 26 at 23:12
  • @blankip heavily depends on legislation. Where I'm from, a company is legally not allowed to deny you any secondary employment or freelancing unless it has very valid reasons to.
    – Joe
    Oct 26 at 23:14
  • 1
    But even that has a chance to get you canned at new company. How do I know you aren't taking an idea from my business and actively testing or implementing it over in another business. Even slight advancements to their data models based on learning how my stuff works. I just can't see how any competent tech company would allow this. I would for instance even in the slightest "5 hours of knowledge transfer a week" expect to see what you are doing at other company to make sure there was no interference.
    – blankip
    Oct 26 at 23:14
  • I would mark your take is a German's take. I get you are extra protected, had German workers work for me... but 95% of the world does not follow these rules.
    – blankip
    Oct 26 at 23:16
6

Sure, if you are up to it - why not.

Of course it depends on any non-compete clauses in your existing contract and new contract, you need to check those first.

It's rare that you get a chance to "double dip" in your I.T. career, but it can happen (for example you get laid off with 9 months severance pay and can get a new job within those 9 months).

In your particular situation, you will have to closely consider

  1. Any conflict with your new job in terms of professionalism and focus
  2. Do you have the energy to do 2 jobs at the same time
  3. Your work / life balance in general
  4. Legal implications, contracts, etc

So there's a lot of caveats here... if continuing as a freelancer on this project is insanely easy for you, and if you can do it without affecting your new job at company B, and if they are prepared to pay you handsomely for it, and if the legal stuff is doable - go for it.

3
  • How would a non-compete in the existing contract (with company A) be of any concern? Conducting work for company A is not competing against company A, and it would be absurd (of company A, or a court if for some reason the question was ever put before one) to think otherwise.
    – eggyal
    Oct 26 at 1:22
  • As for the "double-dipping" example of obtaining new employment during a period of severance, there are some jurisdictions where technically the overlapping severance pay should then be repaid to the former employer (although very few employers actually enforce this).
    – eggyal
    Oct 26 at 1:24
  • Sometimes you work for company A through an agency. Therefore there can be a non compete. And I never heard of anyone enforcing laws against double dipping on a consultant... Oct 26 at 5:24
2

No, it is not a good idea to tell your employer that you can take this on as freelance. When you are leaving one employer, it is often very important - both for you and for them - to fully leave them. There have been several questions on this board on how to handle questions and requests for help from people at the old employer where answering the requests were causing problems at the new position.

Part of the reason for fully leaving the old company is to help educate them. Something is not the best which is why you are leaving. If they can have you fix this project, they won't learn the lessons they need to.

3
  • 1
    For the same reason that someone might want to keep working on a project at that company after leaving it.
    – David R
    Oct 24 at 17:42
  • 7
    But why should someone who has moved onto another company, who has other things to worry about, care whether their old company has been educated or not? Oct 24 at 17:55
  • Plenty of reasons. Enjoying a project, but seeing no perspective within the company is a valid reason to switch. Or just getting a much better paid job. Now they can be in a place where they see themselves in going forward, while still keeping the old project on the side.
    – Joe
    Oct 26 at 8:16
2

The responsible thing to do, the thing that'll leave the best impression with everyone, is to plan your move to the other company for AFTER the conclusion of your project and transfer of knowledge to someone else in your current company.

Most companies will understand that you have critical work left to do that will take a while to complete and if they want you badly enough they'll be happy to wait that long until you start.

You won't be able to do the work on the side anyway while working full time for the new company, so even suggesting that is a bad idea (you'd be working 2 full time jobs, that's not something that's going to be good for productivity at either one of them as you'll be constantly exhausted mentally and/or physically).

5
  • 1
    The problem is "after the conclusion of your project and transfer of knowledge" sometimes never happens, and that can be deliberate--stringing you along with guilt is easier and cheaper than hiring and onboarding someone new. Plus it really is true that it's the responsibility of the employer to ensure their bus factor is greater than one. I agree with the sentiment of this answer, but I feel like it's too extreme--it puts all of the responsibility on the employee, when the employer should naturally shoulder the majority of all types of responsibility, this included.
    – bob
    Oct 25 at 19:55
  • @bob you have a point, but OP clearly states that he wants to quit NOW with just a 3 week notice period on a project where he apparently sees an end in sight but it's beyond those 3 weeks. What he should do is make plans to quite AFTER that end and make sure that it's well defined what the end is and who is responsible for what before that happens (as any project should have defined, of course).
    – jwenting
    Oct 26 at 6:35
  • Just reread it and you're right in OP's specific case--it may make sense to at least try to push back their start date with B if company A has a good history of meeting its deadlines and if the deadline truly is critical. The reason I say this is some companies call every deadline critical to make staff work harder, and then sail right by the not-really-critical-deadline pretty much every time. OP shouldn't move their start date with B for a company and situation like that. But if the deadline truly is critical, it could be a good thing to do.
    – bob
    Oct 26 at 12:49
  • That said OP should not commit to finishing the project before starting with company B. At most they should commit to pushing their start date with B back a reasonable fixed amount of time (deadline + some reasonably small padding), and make sure company A knows that they're leaving after that time whether or not the project is delivered. This will protect OP from the possibility of being strung along indefinitely by company A ("the deadline's been moved back again..."). OP should be professional, but delivery isn't ultimately their responsibility. It's the company's.
    – bob
    Oct 26 at 12:54
  • And there could be valid reasons for OP to just walk. Maybe OP knows this delivery isn't really critical (though they say it is, so not likely here); maybe the employer is highly abusive and it damaging OP's physical and mental health, and they need to just cut their losses. But if OP can push back the start date with B without harming themselves and without committing to take on too much responsibility for A's deadline, it could be a good thing to do.
    – bob
    Oct 26 at 12:58
2

Two legal things you should consider:

  • In germany for example such an arrangement, where you continue the same tasks as a freelancer will be seen as employment, not as freelance work. with all the legal consequences, taxes, health insurance, etc. check your local laws about it.

  • Anything that goes wrong will have to be evaluated, if it happened during your employment time or while freelancing. This can be very problematic.

Some things you might do:

  • You can offer to train a new employer and not do any work yourself, then it might be a completely different type of work and okay for freelancing.

  • There is also the option, that company A rents you from company B, so your old company would be your first customer at the new company. Profits would go to the new company, so nobody can complain.

  • Fresh in a new job, you should focus your energy there. Not get exhausted before your notice period is over from working double shifts.

2
  • "Anything that goes wrong will have to be evaluated, if it happened during your employment time or while freelancing. This can be very problematic." - this is a very important issue. As a freelancer you may fall outside of the insurance coverage of the company running the project. You would have to take on your own insurance and maintain this through any warranty period of the new system. You may be taking on a large amount of risk and that could end up being expensive to get coverage for.
    – DWGKNZ
    Oct 25 at 13:23
  • 1
    "In germany for example such an arrangement, where you continue the same tasks as a freelancer will be seen as employment, not as freelance work. with all the legal consequences, taxes, health insurance, etc. check your local laws about it." That's not entirely true, and missing a major part of the actual law. If you're unable to choose your times, work of place, and other factors, THEN you're considered "Scheinselbstständig" (Fake Freelancer). But if you have free reign over when you do your work, where you do it, use your own equipment, then it's nothing of the sort. It's many factors.
    – Joe
    Oct 26 at 8:12

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .