Is it not legal to work for the old company as a side job?

Not sure if this belongs to “Life Hacking”, if not, please advise me where to move to.

I am resigning my current job and will join a new company in three months with a 100% contract. Two companies are not in the same sectors and have no conflict whatsoever. My current company thinks 3 months transition period not enough and would like to continue hiring me after I leave, as a consultant or contractor. I would love to do so.

Yet my current company has a legal concern. They think it is illegal for me to work for my current company as a consultant or contract while having a 100% contract with my new company. It can be considered fraud. I have also checked my contract with my new company. There is indeed some clause about this issue, saying if I work outside in non-working hours, I have to report.

But to be honest, it seems to me generic/standard enough. So I wonder for all those who have a side job, does this problem pop up universally? How does this rule/law work exactly here in Switzeland? Or maybe it is just standard clause and nobody cares?

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For a start, there is only a certain amount of time that you are allowed to work, which translates to approximately 120% maximum possible employment. Furthermore, as far as I remember you are not allowed to take a significant side work if your main employer doesn’t agree.

On the other hand, once your contract with your previous employer is finished, you have close to 0 obligations towards them. You can tell them that this is their problem now and they should have increased your salary before to prevent you from leaving.


I can confirm that my employer requires to disclose any other professional (i.e. money making activity) I have. I have heard stories of people losing their job over this so would not risk it.

Why don’t you ask your new employer to be covered?

An alternative solution would be for you to work 120% next 3 months :laughing:.

Thank you all for the reply. Now I get the impression that it is indeed not ok to have a side job without disclosing it. I should have taken the rule/law seriously.

My job isn’t rocket science. Three months should be actually more than enough to do the transition. Problem is that there is no one to transit to. I am the last one of the team. New hire will probably only come, if ever, after three months. Now I tend to simply leave and let them handle the problems themselves. No need to get my life complicated.

Well, I wouldn’t refuse good money provided for what is basically a mistake from their end.

You have to disclose to the new company, but in my experience and especially for the nature of your second income, they should not have any problem with it. In my previous company there were a few employees with own side gigs.

Note that it is not something mandatory at the beginning of the relationship, or condition for signing the contract, can be done at any point in time. It’s for them to assess any conflict or unreasonable risk.

But then a question, if you work 100% let’s say 9-5 and in the previous job the new guy also has a similar schedule, how will you conduct your knowledge transfer without affecting your primary income?

I know this is not a specific and precise answer to your question, but I’d like to add a few words. I was in a similar situation: My company was laying off thousands of people, including me. My line manager, who presumably wasn’t part of the decision as he was left without a team but with the same responsibilities, asked me if he could call me in case of emergencies after I had left the company. I said no, since I was under no contractual obligation to do so. But if he wanted, he was very welcome to setup a purchase order, agree on a (very high) hourly rate, and then he could call me and I would bill him.

What I meant as a joke was taken seriously by him. So I started thinking. Eventually, no offer was made since procurement rejected his proposal. But I don’t think that I would have done it anyway, for two reasons: 1) The new company would certainly see that as a lack of commitment and possibly as a risk for themselves, so we wouldn’t be off to a good start, and 2) I’d rather spend my free time outside my (new) main job doing things that I like, rather than dragging my previous job behind me and not finding closure.

TL,DR: I chose not to do it, not for any legal reasons that I never researched, but because the equation wouldn’t balance out for me on a strategic and emotional level, regardless of the money.

I have learned over the years that in the legal world such minute differences actually matter. When you say “close to 0”, is that a way of speaking or would one really have any obligations towards a former employer?

Yes, there could be a clause that you can’t be employed by a direct competitor after leaving the company. Which is not the case here.

Note that in US where it seems to be very common, there are some legal procedures taking momentum to declare such clauses illegal and void postfactum. Don’t ask me for details, this is just a very general information.

True, that is indeed a problem and I don’t have a good solution to it. I will just forget about this side gig then. If I am ever in need, it probably will be emergency incident handling scenario. In that case, I can probably take short phone calls anytime and long phone calls in lunch time or after work.

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Thank you for the story. I would say it is more or less the exact same story as mine, minus the layoff. Both my current company and myself is seriously considering offering and accepting this side contract on a not-too-high hourly rate. Yet either side will probably back off eventually, even if the other side proceeds. Haha. There are a lot more interesting things to pursuit other than helping the old company.

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Now moving on to a more generic question. It has nothing to do with my current company . It just recently occurred to me during this discussion.

If I register my sole proprietorship company and am not planning to do anything with it for now, but maybe something in the future (who knows $_$), should I and how should I bring this up with the new company with a 100% contract? I can imagine this is a common case and HR will just not care. I can also imagine this being considered as employed 200% and HR freaks out. I am totally confused about it. Can someone shine a light?

“I have a sole proprietorship [or LLC, or whatever] for dealing with some existing clients. There’s not much turnover but I intend to keep my clients happy, so occasionally I’ll have to deal with that. This will not be a problem for you, right?”

Use that line as a starter and then be relentless to shoot down any non-compete or exclusivity statute they throw your way. “I’m sorry but I cannot sign any contract containing this paragraph due to the sole proprietorship [or LLC, or whatever] you approved before.”


Do companies commonly approve such exceptions explicitly (or strike the clause off from the contract)?

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You can work for multiple companies. I never heard the 120% rule. I work full time and during the winter am a ski instructor every weekend for sometimes more than 8 hours per day. Sometimes going 2-3 months without a weekend and it’s never a problem. (Some would argue free skiing is already a great weekend :grinning:)

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From the point of the law, it does seem a problem.

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I would also assume it’s not a problem as long as both employer are fine with it. Yet that “as long as” is exactly the problem. In your case, do you need to explicitly report to your week day employer that you earn money in the weekend as a ski instructor?

I don’t report it to them because it is completely different line of work. And Monday I work from home :grinning:

hahha ok. I am thinking about reporting or not. Not sure how HR would react if I report.

It’s not money that you earn on the side that may bother your main employer, as long as you don’t leak information from your main employer or work for a competitor, of course. According to work safety (it also exists for IT guys), you are not actually allowed to work if you are too tired. See rules for long distance truck or bus drivers for example. I am not talking about specific regulations, but about the idea. So if you work more instead of resting, you could be less efficient in your main job or even put yourself and others in (excessive) danger.

On the other hand, tell it to parents of newborn babies that they are required to rest when they are not working, huh :pensive:

To be fair most people know that I do it. I even gave some lessons to some kids of my colleagues

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