I am working as a consultant for firm F through agency A. I am assigned a set of responsibilities which I perform on a daily basis, which is basically customer support work.

Now firm F needs to complete a software development project. They are interested in assigning that work to me. Can I ask them to pay me separately for that piece of work since it will take a lot of my time, is that an ethical thing to do? Is there such an example in the IT industry where you work as a consultant but you charge them separate for a dedicated software? How can I negotiate the pay issue with firm F? I do not want to involve agency A here.

  • 5
    VTC - the Answer to this question fundamentally comes down to what is in your Contract with company A and what your local laws are. Since that is essentially seeking advice on a company specific agreement - we can't answer. Apr 25, 2023 at 3:54
  • 1
    Typically, in the US, it is considered unethical and possibly against the contract to "go around" agency A. Of course, if your contract allows the company to hire you, this would be in the spirit of that agreement. I am not a lawyer, however. Apr 25, 2023 at 14:21

4 Answers 4


Almost certainly not.

There are two contracts in place that would prevent this. First is your contract with A. In virtually every consulting agreement, A will include a non-compete agreement with you that prevents you from doing work for F for a period of time after your contract expires (a year is a common term here).

Even if A somehow neglected to include a non-compete clause in their contract with you, they almost certainly have a non-poaching clause in their contract with F that prevents F from hiring you directly. Often times, this clause allows F to convert a contract resource to an employee in exchange for a fee that compensates A for the expense of recruiting you and for the loss of revenue they'll experience. But it would not allow F to hire you on a second contract that excludes A.

  • Just some thoughts, Firm F and Agency A is having good relations and they have hired people from A full time in the past. If things were that strict, I wouldn't have asked this question. Even I have not seen the non-compete clause anywhere in my contract. Thanks.
    – TheTechGuy
    Apr 25, 2023 at 13:49
  • 1
    @TheTechGuy - Then, as I said, there is probably a clause in the contract between F and A that allows F to convert a contractor to an employee in exchange for a fee. Unless A is wildly incompetent, though, there is no way that they are placing contractors at F with no protection at all to ensure they're not cut out. Apr 25, 2023 at 13:53
  • I am sure there will be something in place. But there may be times where they can just let it go. A is making money out of F after all and their business is important to them. This a permanent relationship so it is not like if they hire someone from A, their contract ends. It is ongoing support that A provides. Hope it clarifies the situation a bit better. So if F hired Employee E from A, that E will be replaced by someone else. So it does not hurt the contract.
    – TheTechGuy
    Apr 25, 2023 at 14:41
  • 1
    @TheTechGuy - You appear to have some hard feelings for A. That may be justified-- I have no idea whether you're underpaid for the work you are doing. But the professional course if you're feeling hard done by an employer is to either negotiate for what you want or go find another job elsewhere. It is very difficult to square your comment elsewhere that A is "all about the money" with the comment here that maybe they'd forgo a bunch of money because they're so chummy with F. It looks like you're trying to find whatever angle benefits you rather than looking objectively at the situation. Apr 25, 2023 at 15:42
  • 1
    @TheTechGuy You can justify your actions however you want. Hire a lawyer and see if any of these justifications will save you from a lawsuit.
    – Nelson
    Apr 26, 2023 at 6:53

I do not want to involve agency A here.

That's the part you can't do.

Since agency A introduced you to firm F with the expectation that they would profit from the resulting association, and since you and firm F both agreed to this, you cannot properly form a separate profitable association with firm F.

The activity of cutting the introducing agency out of subsequent contracts is almost universally considered unethical. It has several pejorative names, such as "poaching", "stealing", or "raiding". Even if agency A neglected to include enforceable non-compete restrictions in your contract, most influential people in the industry would find poaching a client from your agency to be a signal that you shouldn't be trusted with anything serious.

  • Please see my comment to the first answer, why there is a 'need' for this.
    – TheTechGuy
    Apr 25, 2023 at 3:32
  • 1
    And by “need” you mean “but I want to act unethically to get more money.” I mean, you do you but the answer is no it’s not ethical.
    – mxyzplk
    Apr 25, 2023 at 5:27
  • @mxyzplk no that is my 'question', is it 'ethical', it is in the title? Please read my comment on other answers to understand the issue better. A is just an agency who is all about profit and giving minimum possible salary to its employees. I can't negotiate the deal through A because A will digest all the profit.
    – TheTechGuy
    Apr 25, 2023 at 13:42
  • Yeah man I support you talking yourself into behaving unethically because you want a bigger cut of the profit. Just, that’s what’s happening.
    – mxyzplk
    Apr 26, 2023 at 3:52

is that ethical thing to do?

You should read the employment contract between you and agency A.

The contract will tell you whether or not agency A lets you work separately and independently for firm F without going through agency A.

If the contract prohibits you from working for firm F, then agency A will certainly take action against you as stated in the contract.

As you know, if you work separately for firm F, then agency A will not be able to get any payment from firm F.

Please let us know what the contract between agency A and you says. That is the key to the answer.

  • The reason behind all this is, Agency A is not paying much and even if Firm F agrees to increase my rate (for extra work), Agency A will not increase my pay. So just want to bring that out to give some context. I have to find what the contract says.
    – TheTechGuy
    Apr 25, 2023 at 3:31
  • 1
    Agency A pays you what you have negotiated with them to be paid. Then you have agreed on this amount and signed a contract with Agency A.
    – Elerium115
    Apr 25, 2023 at 10:51

As the answer by Justin Cave already explained, you probably can't cut out agency A here, because if they aren't total amateurs in the temp agency business, they ensured that there are clauses in their contracts that forbid it.

But if you still want to do this project and get paid for it, then you can always ask to renegotiate your contract. If you were originally contracted to do customer support, then developing an entirely new product is probably not covered by it. So you can tell Agency A about this great new business opportunity you discovered for them, but at the same time notify them that you and them need to amend your contract to also include work for this project. At a higher hourly rate than you receive now, of course.

  • 1
    The problem that I did not highlight enough is, Agency A is just an agency who is all about money and profit. Renegotiation package is not an option here because even if F increase the salary, A will not increase the same. This has happened with other people. I am not the only person experiencing this issue.
    – TheTechGuy
    Apr 25, 2023 at 13:38
  • 3
    @TheTechGuy Of course A want a slice of the pie. Their options are either you and them each get a slice, or they don't get any pie at all, because you won't participate in a project that's not covered by your contract. If they are only about money and profit, they would understand that this is a beneficial deal for them. Although only if we assume that the client indeeds want you for the project and nobody else.
    – Philipp
    Apr 25, 2023 at 13:55
  • A is already getting a big slice of everything. Do not forget that!
    – TheTechGuy
    Apr 25, 2023 at 14:43
  • 1
    @TheTechGuy I don't. The trick of dealing with greedy capitalists is to appeal to their greed to make even more money. The message you want to give them is that they could make even more money than they do now if they accept your offer, and the same money they make now when they don't.
    – Philipp
    Apr 25, 2023 at 15:31
  • 1
    This is the only answer that outlines the correct course of action. Apr 25, 2023 at 16:47

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