Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Almighty Buck IT Technology

Slashdot Asks: Should an Employee Be Fired For Working On Personal Side Projects During Office Hours? (quora.com) 405

An anonymous reader writes: I found this article that talks about whether an engineer should be fired if s/he is working on a side project. Several people who have commented in the thread say that the employer should first talk to the person and understand why they are working on personal projects during the office hours. One reason, as many suggested, could be that the employee might not have been fairly compensated despite being exceptionally good at the job. In which case, the problem resides somewhere in the management who has failed to live up to the expectations. What do you folks think? Let's not just focus on engineers, per se. It could be an IT guy (who might have a lot of free time in hand), or a programmer.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Slashdot Asks: Should an Employee Be Fired For Working On Personal Side Projects During Office Hours?

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 28, 2017 @12:04PM (#54319723)

    Not for yourself. You want to work on your projects, do it on your time. Why is this complicated? It's not.

    • Exactly.

      Obviously if it's authorised 20% time or something then it's fine (but watch the IP agreements, because anything you create on that basis might well belong to your employer legally).

      Otherwise, if you want to be paid for your results and not your time, become a freelancer or start your own company and work business-to-business, and have appropriate clauses in your contract about the basis of payment and what is included and not included. Don't be an employee and then try to not be an employee.

      Some of

    • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @12:21PM (#54319897)

      It depends, though. At least in most of the US (it varies by state), a salaried employee is supposedly being compensated for the job that they do, not the hours that they keep. If the job requires certain hours, then technically you should be using hourly employees. There are obviously fuzzy areas, and many, many businesses play fast and loose with the rules. Anyway, if the employee is salaried is doing what is asked of them, then they are still guilty of using company resources for a personal project. But that's a far lesser sin than "stealing" hours, which is what is implied in the question.

    • You should be allowed to use unused clock cycles in your brain twice- but then your personal project *belongs to the company you are working for*, not to you, and they deserve a return on investment.

    • by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @01:14PM (#54320289) Journal

      /topic

      It is *that* straightforward.

      Add to that, if they're paying for your time while you're developing something, then there is legal precedent that they actually *own* what you developed.

    • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

      But to flip that in reverse, outside of working hours is YOUR time, and yet many companies expect people to work more than their contracted hours sometimes...

      If a company wants to be strict with hours, then the employee should be too... If they want to be flexible, then the employee can be flexible too but you can't have it both ways.

    • Confession (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pr0t0 ( 216378 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @01:33PM (#54320457)

      I've worked on personal projects on company time. There are times when it's feast or famine in the workplace. During down times (meaning any or most other busy work has been done), I have used some of that time to work on personal projects. As an example, one of those personal projects was to make a web app to create and hold my gaming group's D&D characters. During that time, I taught myself AngularJS, Firebase, Bootstrap, and jsPDF. Since that time, I've built 2-3 other web apps for my company using what I learned then, and was able to offer those solutions because of how I used that down time. I learn better by having a project than by reading a book.

      Whether what I did was an appropriate use of my time or defensible, is probably separately debatable. But you never know what you are going to learn, or how it might apply to what you do for a living when working on little projects that you are passionate about. As long as you never, ever, let it get in the way of your work or output. The job always comes first.

      That said, I've never worked on anything that I thought would make me a millionaire or give me reason to leave my job. I love what I do, who I work with, and who I work for. I'm very loyal. Part of that loyalty was earned by allowing me to pursue little things over the years that interested me. It could be argued that perhaps there was no concerted effort to afford me that freedom, but no one looks over my shoulder, runs through my browser logs, or demands an accounting of my time; because like I said, my work is always done.

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @12:04PM (#54319725) Homepage Journal
    If you are a W2 employee and working on company time on your own projects, you might have more to worry about than being fired.

    If you are creating new content, inventing a new gadget, etc....and you do it on company time, you may find that you DO NOT OWN what you have created.

    Many if not most employment contracts/agreements have verbiage that states that anything you come up with on company time, belongs to the company.

    They may not fire you, but they will now own it and you won't make any $$ on the side for it....

    • by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @12:15PM (#54319825)

      Most employment agreements are such that the company owns it even if it is outside of normal hours. So inventions you come up with on your own time are not yours.

      I guess my gripe is that most companies expect a blurring of your work/personal time when it is in their favor. It is far to common for a boss to call someone at home, or expect work to occur remotely after hours or on weekends. So morally, the opposite should be true.

      Salaried positions do NOT require 8 hours of work, they can't legally. It is the flipside of the no-overtime equation. You have to be paid for days you work, but you are paid to do a job, not work a set number of hours. It gets really fuzzy (usually not in a workers favor), but essentially salaried workers are supposed to have a certain amount of autonomy in how they carry out their work.

      In days of yore companies like HP, and Google (somewhat laughably) encouraged outside projects with a notion of 10% of your time being an acceptable amount to spend on non-sanctioned fun projects. Many side and home projects turned into major revenue for the company, or a new business. It was viewed as a good thing. It has become much more restricted and legalistic these days.

      • by Luthair ( 847766 )
        Its more like some employment contracts do. I don't know anyone who has that in their contract, though I do periodically see the stories on Slashdot about it ;)
      • Most employment agreements are such that the company owns it even if it is outside of normal hours. So inventions you come up with on your own time are not yours.

        Move to California and stop being a serf.
        https://leginfo.legislature.ca... [ca.gov].

      • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

        Only if you were stupid enough to sign a contract giving it to them. Not only are such contracts illegal in some states, but you don't have to sign them. Refuse. Watch them quickly get rid of it.

      • Most employment agreements are such that the company owns it even if it is outside of normal hours. So inventions you come up with on your own time are not yours.

        I've seen this on some W2 and 1099 contracts...and I simple line them out saying that what I do outside hours on MY time is my business and my intellectual property.

        They usually agree easily as long as you're not in direct competition with them.

        Most all of those agreements are boilerplate they got from their lawyers to try to cover everything, b

      • Most employment agreements are such that the company owns it even if it is outside of normal hours. So inventions you come up with on your own time are not yours.

        Ummm, [citation needed] here, I think.

        I can't imagine how this is possibly legal, even if it was in there. Yeah, if you use *company provided assets* to develop your invention, sure. You're using their stuff to do it, so they could reasonably argue they should own it (or at least part of it). But if I use my own time, my own assets, my own learning, and it's not even related to my work (e.g., they can't claim that I'm using knowledge learned on the job or something, I could see them trying to argue that)

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It depends on where you live, but in many states the clause may be in there, but it is illegal and unenforceable unless the product is created at work during normal business hours using company assets. Beyond that, those clauses are just abusive and should be illegal everywhere, just like the non-compete clauses. I know why corporations put them in there, but slavery was outlawed over 100 years ago, and just because they give you a paycheck, the company does not have unlimited rights to you.

      • I actually line-itemed that out in my offer letter and got no pushback. (the developed on my own time, not on company owned equipment part).

    • Many if not most employment contracts/agreements have verbiage that states that anything you come up with on company time, belongs to the company.

      Many if not most employment contracts/agreements for software engineers and the like have verbiage that states that anything you come up with on company or personal time, belongs to the company.

      Read your contract carefully before starting a side business.

      • I've always wondered about the legality or enforceability of the "we own everything you do 24x7" part of those contracts. I suspect it would be hard for them to collect as long as the work was provably not done using company assets and was not competitive with their business interests. But IANAL.
        • I think it is nominally to prevent you from developing something for them and skipping town with it to a competitor. Here it is relatively easy to request them to release intellectual property to you, or you can fill out an outside employment form to cover things done outside work. I've never heard of them needing to enforce it on any individuals, and in fact have heard of them blessing employees that wanted to turn in-house work into an outside startup when the mother company wasn't interested in the mar
      • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

        Stop working for assholes. In 17 years I've had one employer try to do that to me. Every other one I've signed, including with major tech companies, explicitly state the opposite.

      • That isn't true at all. No company does this. It would be unenforceable.
    • This. I think my contract actually states that everything made on the clock is their intellectual property. Also, there's a clause you can't work for other companies in the mean time, and if you are setting something up on your own time they can actually call first dibs on it (meaning they are first in line to buy it from you, but I don't know how that works if you're not agreeing with the offer).
    • Should an employee be fired for sitting and watching Baseball for a few hours on the company dime? How about watching the Flintstones? Playing Internet Poker? Those are all non-productive items as well, so why would you expect special treatment because you are doing something "techie" which does not help the business?

      Companies should have discretion because they are _PAYING_ the person to be on the job earning money for the company.

      If you disagree, go start up your own company on your own dime and allow

      • Re:Sadly? (Score:5, Funny)

        by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @12:27PM (#54319917) Homepage

        Should an employee be fired for sitting and watching Baseball for a few hours on the company dime? How about watching the Flintstones? Playing Internet Poker?

        Posting to Slashdot?

      • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
        I'm not in favor of working on other projects when on the clock for someone else, but it is a very normal thing to take many breaks for any intellectual job. The brain necessitates it. You literally cannot learn anything new while your working memory is consumed by what you've been thinking about. You must take time to forget in order to learn. You do most of your learning when your working memory is empty.
        • by s.petry ( 762400 )

          I fully agree, and will re-emphasize what I said about company discretion. Learning new things on the company dime is not an issue, especially considering that it mainly helps the company. TFA explicitly states working on personal projects while making money for a company in any meaningful way. Self education, blowing off steam, or simply unplugging to let the brain relax before heading back to a complex issue.

    • That is exactly what I was thinking as I was reading this. Most companies that I've worked for "own" any IP that I build using company resources including company time. If you are bringing your personal laptop in and working on it only during your personal lunch time or something, you might have a leg to stand on, but during working hours? I have managed hundreds of developers in my career and while I haven't had this exact scenario, I have reprimanded people for working on projects other than their assigne

  • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @12:05PM (#54319731)

    Different people have different arrangements, I'm sure a lot of people here are strictly 8-5. But in my world I'm expected to be available and on call around the clock based on the specific function I perform (it's a lot of hurry up and wait). So I may be working at 11PM, but at 2PM I may be free. I do not get paid any extra for overtime. So who is to say that I'm on company time?

    While the simple answer might be that I should always be on task during work hours, I strongly doubt my bosses would like me to just abdicate when a job finishes at 11PM and needs my attention but doesn't get it until the next morning, nor do they want to pay for another person to do it (even if that were remotely possible, which it isn't). So if I'm dicking around in the middle of the day, and I'm at the office just to maintain office hours, it should be assumed that I'm simply not on company time right now.

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

      While the simple answer might be that I should always be on task during work hours, I strongly doubt my bosses would like me to just abdicate when a job finishes at 11PM and needs my attention but doesn't get it until the next morning, nor do they want to pay for another person to do it (even if that were remotely possible, which it isn't). So if I'm dicking around in the middle of the day, and I'm at the office just to maintain office hours, it should be assumed that I'm simply not on company time right now.

      But unless you've worked out some special arrangement your employer, it wouldn't be assumed that you're not on company time when you're in the office "working", and depending on your employment contract, your company may own whatever you're working on on their time and equipment.

      In my company, when you're you put in significant after-hours work, you take time off from the office, you don't go to the office and pretend you're working.

      • If you have signed something in writing to that affect. If no such contract exists, and it is found that the employee is spending significant uncompensated after-hours time working for the employer, then the courts should tell everyone involved to get lost.

        I think this will drive the best possible behaviors: either
        a) employers will formalize all arrangements and employees can take it or leave it (or as is usually done, conceal it well), or
        b) investors can be warned that employees are not fully harnessed and

  • OMG (Score:4, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @12:06PM (#54319747)

    ...One reason, as many suggested, could be that the employee might not have been fairly compensated despite being exceptionally good at the job. In which case, the problem resides somewhere in the management who has failed to live up to the expectations. ...

    What sort of clap-trap is this excuse. If an employee tries to use it, I'd consider it more evidence that the employee should be fired.

    .
    Bottom line: if you don't like the management of the company, then leave. If you are doing side work on the job, that is the equivalent of goofing off.

    Quit your whining and get back to working the job you are being paid for.

    • It's an entitlement excuse.

      When I was in high school, I knew a lot of kids who worked at Burger King. They were stealing money from their registers, some of them managing to lift over $800/month. Everyone agreed this was a good thing because "they didn't get paid enough." High school kids. Not paid enough. Seriously.

      The only excuse for using company time for non-work is not having work to do. You get an admin job and you're efficient enough to do it in 1/3 the given time? Well, I can't rightly sa

    • ... says the guy posting on a forum during work hours.

  • by Randy Smith ( 4855861 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @12:06PM (#54319749)
    I for instance work for the government in IT and during holidays when the non 12 monthers are out, I am basically a paper weight at my desk all day. So I take online classes, work on a few outside client minor jobs, Test and run random network crap remotely from my house or just read a bunch of sports websites. I mean what is the difference between working on a side job or doing nothing at all while I have nothing to do?
    • by monkeyxpress ( 4016725 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @12:37PM (#54319967)

      I once worked at a company where the embedded software team was based around one guy who was the ultimate control freak. They needed to speed up software development, so upper management kept giving him more people for his team. He refused to let them write any software, so his team just kept growing because upper management thought the problem was still capacity. One guy I knew well did a masters degree while sitting two desks from his boss. I talked to him about this (when he wasn't busy working on his thesis), and he said he asked his boss every day if he had any work for him to do, and his boss always said he would get back to him. He was on a good salary too, and I think the company helped pay for his course, and gave him study days to attend lectures.

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      I for instance work for the government in IT and during holidays when the non 12 monthers are out, I am basically a paper weight at my desk all day. So I take online classes,

      This time of the month is always slow for me at my job, every month. So I've started going through edX courses during working hours to learn more skills I can use at work and, more importantly, move up or into different positions within my company. In my opinion, if it's legitimate business skills there shouldn't be an issue.

  • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @12:08PM (#54319767)

    Salary? Office hours?

    He should be fired for working on an unauthorized personal project using work equipment, because that says 'he is just too stupid'. The hours don't enter into it. How hard is it to securely terminal server to your home computer? Which would change the issue from stupidity to sneakiness, but that's another discussion.

  • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @12:08PM (#54319769)

    You're getting paid during office hours to work for the company, not to work on your personal projects.

    Also, to basically everyone reading this: you're also not paid to read Slashdot - GET BACK TO WORK!

    • Also, to basically everyone reading this: you're also not paid to read Slashdot - GET BACK TO WORK!

      Well played.

    • by myrdos2 ( 989497 )

      Compiling! [xkcd.com]

    • I'm paid largely to put out fires. When there are no fires, I work on process and documentation to ensure that there are less fires in the future. But there are definite times when I'm juggling several issues, and I'm waiting for more information or a decision from leadership on those issues. At that point, I don't have much to do. There's really not time to pick up the process and documentation work, as that's time-consuming, and it's 100% guaranteed to be interrupted by the evolution of the ongoing issues.
       
      So during those lulls, I dick around on the internet, work on my own projects, go for a walk, or wander off early to grab a beer somewhere.
       
      I don't get paid for what I produce. I get paid for fire prevention services. If there is no emergency I need to respond to, that means I'm being successful at my job. If there are less emergencies as time goes on, I'm doing an awesome job. And if all of the current issues are at a point where someone else needs to do something, it's thumb-twiddling time.
       
      As a salaried employee who's job it is to do something other than produce, I don't feel the need to be doing something every minute I'm at work. If I pick up anything, it needs to be droppable at a minute's notice, when I have to go back to putting out fires. That's not conducive to most of the stuff that needs to get done around here, and it's far worse for people who need that done if there's no way for me to guarantee when I can get to it. If it's on my plate, it's not on somebody else's plate, and they're much more likely to get to it in a timely fashion than I am.
       
      My value is in being responsive. Idle time is part and parcel of being able to be responsive.

  • by allo ( 1728082 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @12:09PM (#54319775)

    The code belongs to your employer. You do not have the right to distribute it without his consent. Not in your name and not with a licence you're choosing. It's his code, because he payed for the development time.

  • I'm confident that my participation in the daily scrum meeting is in no way harmed by my Uber gigs.

  • by kenh ( 9056 )

    Can an employee be fired for watching porn on company time? Yes.

    Can an employee be fired for reading novels on company time? Yes.

    What makes working for another employer on company time different in a way that doesn't cost them their job?

  • the answer should be no.
  • Hard to answer this generically. My company works on federal contracts. Mischarging our time is a federal offense - you better believe i'm going to be fired if I'm caught doing so.
  • By that logic I should fire my company for making me work after hours and weekends on their projects.

    If you're an hourly employee, its different. If you are a salaried employee you are paid to do a set of tasks and projects. If you complete those that's really what matters. If I need to work on side project for 20 minutes at 1PM and then need to work on a work project at 2AM it all works out in the end.

    • by slew ( 2918 )

      By that logic I should fire my company for making me work after hours and weekends on their projects.

      That's called quitting... You are free to do that do that if you want to...

      If you're an hourly employee, its different. If you are a salaried employee you are paid to do a set of tasks and projects. If you complete those that's really what matters. If I need to work on side project for 20 minutes at 1PM and then need to work on a work project at 2AM it all works out in the end.

      Not according to current labor laws. Non-exempt employees can be required to work some overtime, it is just that non-exempt employees have to be paid for it (unlike exempt employee that must be on a salary). Similarly both exempt and non-exempt employees are allowed to refuse to work more than 72 hours a week or when statutory safety time limitations are reached. About the only "real" difference is are the required extra pay for ov

    • by bsolar ( 1176767 )

      By that logic I should fire my company for making me work after hours and weekends on their projects.

      If the company refuses to properly compensate you for your after hours work, yes you should stop working for them.

  • Daylighting. Some companies (Google, for example) embrace it, while others try to stamp it out.

    Does the employee contract state that working on outside projects is not allowed, on company equipment and/or on company time?
    Does the contract state that anything external that the employee works on automatically becomes IP of the company (good luck with trying to enforce that in some countries)?
    The employee contract usually defines responsibilities for both the employee and the employer. Using the employee contract to enforce behaviour on the part of the employee can be problematic if the employee has a good lawyer versed in employment law on their speed-dial, and will often result in a shit storm for all parties that does nobody any favours (except for the lawyers).

    In most cases, working on outside projects will be grounds for some kind of disciplinary process, but if the employee is valued then asking them why they are daylighting. Look at whether they are completing projects/meeting targets on time, and whether you are happy for the employee to walk away.

  • by spaceyhackerlady ( 462530 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @12:20PM (#54319887)

    As a senior engineer I'm expected to keep an eye out for technology that may be useful for the company. I set time aside to poke around, see what's out there, and play with new stuff. Some of this may end up being only of personal interest, while some of it may end up being useful for the company. Until I have a look at it, I won't know.

    I'll spend half a day on something on my own responsibility, a morning or an afternoon, before I seek buy-in from my boss to proceed further.

    ...laura

  • If the employee spends 2-3 hours on a personal project in the middle of the day, puts in 11 hours total and records 8 hours of work, not necessarily a problem. This *can* lead to other issues, like fielding an unusual amount of personal calls throughout the day.

    If they are spending 20-30% of company time on a personal project (time), that is a problem. Emphasis on company time versus personal time. No matter what the scenario is, it fits when described as company vs personal. Working from home, I split c

  • Sometimes I find that doing something other than my job for bit, increases productivity. There are days where I just can't concentrate. If I can get my brain into work mode by doing some other project, in the end it benefits the company. I went through a phase where I would read a chapter of a book, then work for an hour, repeatedly, all day. I found that I was more focused during those hour period than a typical day, and I spent almost no time at all trolling /. and other news sites. Boss said as long
  • No, they shouldn't. Many employers expect employees to be available outside of work hours for emergencies, critical tasks or to meet deadlines.

    I check my work email frequently outside of office hours, which is essentially unpaid work. So if I take time during the day for personal projects I feel it evens out.

    At the end of the day, as long as the work is being done to the quality, scope, budget and timeline as originally planned then who cares how or when it gets done.

    I see my salary as a compensation for wo

  • The way you ask it, it sounds as if you say: Should I be fired if I used the time the company pays me to do something else, like sitting in a bar or doing my second job.

    The answer is "hell yes". There is no reason not to. It is called company time for a reason. Even in socialist Europe you will be fired for that.

    I can turn the question around: If you hire me to do some work in your house, would you be ok if I cleaned the next doors swimming pool during that time?

    The way it is asked has nothing to do with IT

  • It depends on the facts of the situation. Ex:

    1. Service company where contract stipulates you can only bill while meeting customer requirements.
    2. Service company where contract stipulates you must be "butt-in-seat" for 40 hours.
    3. Product company where the person is goofing off.
    4. Product company where the person is a solid performer, maybe even at the top and produces consistently good results.

    WRT...
    #1 Absolutely.
    #2 Depends on the optics (such as are they keeping it on the down low) and whether the contra

  • You sign a contract, you must abide to it. If you have to work 8 hours a day, you must "supply" them to your employer in whatever form he allows it (along a day, week, month, year-span, eventually they must add up). If you work on a schedule, the same applies: that schedule is theirs.

    We engineers have a highly intellectual job, so for some reason, at some point closely after we first start our adult life, we feel our jobs are harder and should be somewhat different than normal "day jobs". What we forget is

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @12:40PM (#54320001) Homepage Journal

    Anyone who works on unauthorized personal projects should certainly expect to be subject to firing. But as a supervisor I would make the decision to fire based on what is best for my employer. That depends on a lot of things.

    I don't believe in automatic zero tolerance responses. The question for me is whether the company better off booting this guy or disciplining him. Note this intrinsically unfair. Alice is a whiz who gets all of her work done on time and to top quality standards. Bob is a mediocre performer who is easily replaced. So Alice gets a strong talking to and Bob gets the heave-ho, which is unfair to Bob because Alice did exactly the same thing.

    But there's a kind of meta-fairness to it. Stray off the straight and narrow and you subject yourself to arbitrary, self-interested reactions.

    Now as to Alice, I would (a) remind her that anything she creates on company time belongs to the company (even if we're doing open source -- we get to choose whether the thing is distributed) and (b) that any revenue she derives from it rightly belongs to the company. But again there's no general rule other than maximize the interests of the company. I'll probably insist she shut down the project immediately and turn everything over to the company, but not necessarily. I might choose to turn a blind eye. Or maybe even turn a blind eye until Alice delivers on her big project, then fire her and sue her for the side project revenues if I thought we didn't need her any longer. If loyalty is a two-way street, so is betrayal.

    Sure, you may rationalize working on a side project as somehow justified by the fact your employer doesn't pay you what you're really worth, but the grown-up response to that is to find a better job; if you can't, by definition in a market economy you are getting paid at least what you're worth. If you decide to proceed by duplicity, you can't expect kindness or understanding unless you can compel it.

  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @12:44PM (#54320021) Homepage Journal

    It should be positively encouraged. I also believe offices should be furnished with beds, so we can take a nap when we want. And we should all have an additional computer with an up to date graphics card and 4K monitor that we can install Steam on.

    This seems reasonable to me. What say you, fellow programmers?

  • I can entirely see how a company would initially see this as a problem. They are paying someone to do a project on the side that will likely never bring any money back to the company. In many companies, theres a policy that says anything you create while on the company dime or while utilizing company facilities, equipment, etc, is the property of the company since they have in essence paid for it by paying you.

    I've seen people pushed out for this before and I've seen the same companies struggle to fill t
  • Structural, or one-off? During a busy period or while he would otherwise be staring out the window? For money, or as a hobby? After having been warned not too, or as a first offense? Doing something that will ultimately take business (not just hours) away from the company, or completely unrelated?

    At the lower end of the scale, I don't see much difference between an engineer hobbying around a bit on a lazy afternoon and, say, a female employee rushing out to pick up a sick child from daycare unexpectedly. On

  • There are several factors to consider, including, in no particular order:

    1) Is he otherwise getting his job done?
    2) Is there a conflict of interest?
    3) Is company policy clear on the issue?
    4) Can his side work benefit his employer?

    There are many other factors, too. My company's policy is clearly spelled out: we are allowed to have side jobs and businesses, as long as there is no conflict of interest, no misuse of company property, and as long as they don't interfere with getting our work done.

    We have found

  • Should an employee be fired for viewing slashdot at work?

    • abso-friggin-lute-- NO CARRIER

    • I worked at company where the supervisors installed remote desktop viewing program. One morning my supervisor came running over to explain that it was against policy to view Amazon on company time. That is until he saw that I had a breakfast burrito in hand and I told him to bugger off. It wasn't against policy to browse the Internet during breaks. The work around that everyone came up with was to buy PDA's to tap into the open Wi-Fi access point from the business next door and browse the Internet on our d
  • Wow, the number of utterly heartless, black and white thinking people on this thread is amazing.

    It totally depends on a variety of factors, although I agree that 'insufficient compensation' isn't one of them.

    First and foremost, is it impacting the job that you're being paid to do? If not, then who cares? Hell, if it's something interesting it may even open up an opportunity for the company to branch out into that other thing if the employe was interested in sharing that other expertise.

    If it does impact t

  • Funny, I am on an on-call rotation, which I am rarely ever compensated for. So companies want to be able to invade your lives on a whim, and want protection.

    There is no employee/employer balance. And I think, if you're salaried, shouldn't your schedule be flexible. Now if you're not doing your work, that's another issue. But so many of us do our share and someone else's.

  • And I say this as someone who's worked on personal projects on company time (both with and without their knowing).

    Ultimately that right resides with my employers who are paying me.

    More realistically it depends on if my boss is a jerk and/or if I've been working up to THEIR standards (and that's the key)

    It's no different than my surfing on the web while waiting for a compile to finish and posting on slashdot (looks over shoulder) or working on some personal app (I can claim I'm enriching my skill set by doin

  • Yes, of course. There should be disciplinary actions against employees who work on personal projects without permission on company time and on company equipment.

    If you're at work for 80 hours a week, you have 88 hours when you're not at work, presumably sleeping, bathing and cooking. If you are lucky to only work 40-50 hours then you have closer to 120 hours a week to yourself.

    I think it's really smart when companies offer some form of 80/20 rule. But usually that 20% is worked out to not interfere with the

  • Wow, the original post on this one....Thanks for bringing to light where the Software Engineering profession is going. Now if the side project was for the company who is paying your salary, then maybe you have something to stand on. If it was not and for you own monetary gain, then yes, they have grounds for termination.

    By the way, the former is called actively participating in you companies' success and good business ethics. The latter........, not so much.

  • The entire article's response to the question is based on the premise that the guy that is 'daylighting' on the job is an exceptional worker and gets all of his jobs done in a fraction of the time it takes his peers. The author gives an example of a programmer that does 50% more work than his peers, but doesn't get any bonuses, promotions, or pay increases when performance reviews come about. So, that employee starts putting out the same amount of work as his peers and then spends the rest of his time doing
  • by SLi ( 132609 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @03:17PM (#54321231)

    I agree that the salary excuse is a very poor one. Other than that, I am shocked by the tone of most of the responses here.

    An employment contract is generally drafted to give the employer the necessary tools to manage the employee. It does not mean that everything written there should be the way the business is run day-to-day. Essentially, it's a two-sided deal, while it seems to me that most people here think that once you have signed an employment contract, you should accept being treated the worst way the contract technically allows and expect the employer to own your ass.

    It does not need to be like that. I am sad that is the way it is in lower-paid jobs – people are not cattle and should not be treated like that. It almost seems as if many people here have had some kind of a traumatic experiences at work and now want everybody to be treated like that, in perpetuity.

    I work in a company where the rule is, more or less, "make yourself useful to the company". Cannot think of what to do, or just have ran out of your productive energy? Why not play a game of pool on the employer-provided pool table. Everybody knows that you cannot be productive for eight hours a day. As long as the job gets done, the employer is satisfied.

    Now, legally I know the employer could take all of that away. The company probably pretty much needs that power, since you cannot really draft "the atmosphere shall be relaxed" in the contract. However it knows very well it can only recruit the talent it needs because of these perks (and it has been able to recruit people who fit the culture shockingly well – we have more than 300 employees, and it still works very well). If it tried that, I can assure you the current talent would also leave the company very fast, and I'm sure it would be less productive, not more. Also, my employer couldn't care less about whose equipment I am using. Why should it? It's not like doing personal stuff causes the computers to wear out very fast.

    It's all about total compensation. I know I could have a job that pays at least 10-20% more if I accepted a much less relaxed atmosphere and less perks. It's a whole spectrum, but I would not work long-term for an employer who treats their employees as cattle for pretty much any price. I have found that most employers are very satisfied at the performance they get from me and, as a result, do not whine. (Only once I had a Russian boss who did whine. I pulled some strings and got moved to a team whose boss was more than happy to have me.)

    Having said that, I wouldn't run my own business from work. Hobby projects go in the same category with playing pool. As long as it won't distract from your duties, go ahead. There's a certain level of performance that the employer expects. If he has a problem with what I achieve, he can come and talk to me. If he is happy with what I achieve but is disturbed by me spending time on other things? I will tell him (truthfully) that I doubt I could achieve more long-term by pretending to be more hard-working, that this is how I work and that if he cannot tolerate that, then I'm also not happy to work in that company and offer to resign amicably, as companies tend to prefer that to firing people.

  • by OpenSourced ( 323149 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @03:43PM (#54321429) Journal

    Suppose you have a cleaning woman in your home (that's the most likely employee anybody has). She cleans everything to your like, but you discover that, when you are not at home, she spends some time watching your TV. Or she leaves early.

    You fire her, and hire a new one. She never does less than her time, and spends the whole time cleaning, but the end results are less satisfactory. Many things aren't really clean. You fire her too.

    After some further trials you find one that cleans perfectly. If she has spare time, she uses it for extra chores like deep cleaning the backside of the fridge, and never misses a date. Regrettably, in six months' time she leaves you to set up a cleaning business.

    Now you wish you had kept the first one.

    Convert cleaning woman to engineer, If she's doing side work on 'your' time, and also doing her job properly, then you aren't giving her enough work. If she's not doing her job properly, it doesn't really matter much why, you should fire her. Anything else is a recognition that you cannot properly evaluate her work and so you are incompetent as engineers supervisor, and should fire yourself.

  • by Dutchmaan ( 442553 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @04:23PM (#54321683) Homepage

    The Corporate Apologist vs. The Self Entitled Millenial !!!!!

    FIGHT!

Children begin by loving their parents. After a time they judge them. Rarely, if ever, do they forgive them. - Oscar Wilde

Working...