HR has a policy for my place of employment that basically states no employee can take supplemental income from specific types of employers that would constitute a conflict of interest. And that we must get authorization prior to accepting supplemental income from those employers. (And, obviously, that we cannot use company time or resources for any outside work, etc.)

This week, HR revised this policy to state that we must report any supplemental income and get management's approval for said income, even if it happens on personal time and is not a conflict of interest. Violation of this policy is "grounds for discipline, up to and including discharge." So now, we have to get approval for any supplemental income, whether it fits within their specific cases of conflict of interest or not. (So before, if I worked for a competing entity, I'd need to get approval. Now, if I want to work for a completely unrelated, non-competing entity, I still must get approval.)

Is it standard practice for an employer to demand to know if we have a second job, and to make our employment contingent on their approval of that secondary income?

I totally understand firing someone for using company time, company computers or office equipment, company phone, etc., to do work for another employer. But to demand the right to "veto" our ability to take a second job on nights or weekends seems a bit much to me. I feel like this policy is seeking way too much information on what we do with our personal time.

  • Is it legal....
    – Draken
    Jun 21, 2017 at 14:37
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    The old policy only required us to get approval if there was a possible conflict of interest. The new policy requires us to get approval in all cases of supplemental income.
    – CaM
    Jun 21, 2017 at 14:47
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    @JuanCarlosOropeza Before the OPs edit, the question asked: Is it legal for an employer to demand to know if we have a second job, and to make our employment contingent on their approval of that secondary income? Which is a close reason her at the workplace. It's been updated now and more fits inside our guidelines
    – Draken
    Jun 21, 2017 at 14:49
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    My real question is whether or not I should consider this grounds to seek other employment. I'm not a huge fan of invasions of privacy.
    – CaM
    Jun 21, 2017 at 14:59
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    @CM_Dayton we can't answer that one for you...
    – Erik
    Jun 21, 2017 at 15:03

4 Answers 4


Is it standard practice for an employer to demand to know if we have a second job, and to make our employment contingent on their approval of that secondary income?

That's not standard practice among any of the many companies where I have worked or any that I personally know. It seems unfair to me. But then lots of practices seem unfair to someone.

But what does it matter if it is "standard" or "nonstandard"?

Unless the laws in your locale prohibit this (and it doesn't seem like they do) or you already belong to a union (and I'm guessing you don't) you can:

  • Try to convince your employer to change this practice
  • Stay and be bound by the new practice
  • Try to find a company that doesn't employ this practice and go there
  • Lobby your lawmakers to pass laws prohibiting this practice
  • Attempt to increase local union participation and find a union that would negotiate against this practice
  • Wait until you are actually considering a second job, and deal with it then
  • In the UK its standard boiler plate to a contract I cant think of one that I have signed that did not have it Jun 23, 2017 at 10:23

Disclaimer: this is not legal advice

Your state, Ohio, is an at will state:

Ohio is an "at-will employment" state. This means that, unless explicitly stated, both employer and employee may terminate the employment for any reason (or for no reason at all), as long as it is not illegal to do so.

However, there are some exceptions to the at-will rule. For example, if an Ohio employer fires an employee for discriminatory reasons, a breach of employment contract, or in retaliation for exercising their employee rights

Source: legalmatch.com

From this, your employer can introduce these contract changes.


I would see this is totally fair and sensible, depending on the Job you have. Imagine a Pilot who is tired at work because he works also a night shift elsewhere - you would not want to be flown by him, would you? I you have a full-time job and get paid a fair salary a company has a right that you are also able perform 100%. A second job could arguably impede that ability.

Here in Germany the interest of the employer would be weighted against the interest of the employee and "veto" would only be legal if it is plausible that the employee´s performance would be impeded by his second job.

As to the legality in the US, I cannot say unfortunately.

  • 3
    But it doesn't matter whether the pilot is tired from a night-shift, or tired from partying too much. What matters is them showing up unfit for work, right?
    – Erik
    Jun 21, 2017 at 14:44
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    It matters because he will bind himself legally to another employer. So he has signed an obligation to always be "unfit for work" elswhere.
    – Daniel
    Jun 21, 2017 at 15:03

I think it becoming a more popular clause. I have a similar clause in my last 4 employment contracts, instead of declaring income, I have to declare any second job. Also, I have to declare any intellectual property I am developing on my time. I speak with other programmers and some of them have sign a contract with a similar clause.

Co-workers shared stories that some other co-workers use they knowledge gained at the job to do side-line. The management was mad at them because they invest a lot in training and those individuals become competitors at night because of they on-job trained skills.

It happen to me a few times that a customer of my employer tried to make a deal personally with me, hidden from my employer, to cut the consultancy cost.

I understand the employer asking for second job but asking for income numbers seem a bit of privacy invasion.

Personally, I never had any issue with my employer to get a sign paper that allow me to work for my previous employer, some personally known customer or keep my IP of my personal project.

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