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I have been working for a company for the last 3 months. 2 months ago I created a personal account on a freelancing website and for trial purposes I have applied to 4-5 proposals on the site, but I have not worked with anyone.

Now my company have been informed of this, and they are telling me that I have done illegal things. They are terminating my employment and are not going to pay me for the last 2 months.

  1. Have I really done something illegal and what can I do now?

  2. Can anyone working for any company open a freelancing website account?

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    That is a question for a lawyer - you need to examine your contract to see if it claims all your time exclusively or not. – Oded Jul 18 '13 at 8:32
  • If you used the company's computer or equipment to connect to the freelancing site at any time you were being unethical at the very least. – Scott Dec 30 '13 at 22:52
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    Hope you are still Alive, keep us updated man. Last seen Jul 21 '13 at 10:44. – Gauraw Yadav Jan 13 '14 at 4:23
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As someone said, you should consult your lawyer. He will read the agreement you both signed and then see if they are right or wrong. Most companies sign binding contracts with their developers which do not allow that their employee work in the same branch. For example, if your company develops slots machines, then you are not allowed to do such coding after the work. But you are allowed to do game coding or mobile apps coding since these are not related areas.

Of course, the only thing that matter is what you signed in your contract with them.

Now, speaking honestly, you did not do anything wrong since you never did any job. But you may have talked with their competitors and most companies will punish such acts.

Ask you lawyer to talk to your company and offer that they punish you (percentage of salary) if you did something which is illegal. It's pretty harsh just to fire you.

And in the end, if you are a developer and good developer, then seek for another job. This company of yours looks like a horror company. If they punish small mistakes like that, then they do not appreciate their workers. Of course, I am speaking this in case this is your first mistake and you are usually a good worker. In such case, I would leave this company asap but consult the lawyer just to know if they had right to fire me.

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    Now company wants password of my personal & freelancing account & they wants to change my mail-id to their mail-id & they want to observe it for 2-3 months. even also they are not providing me termination letter .only verbly they terminated me. – user1729042 Jul 19 '13 at 4:07
  • i want termination letter but they are asking me for password otherwise they dont wants to give me termination letter & also dont wants to continue me – user1729042 Jul 19 '13 at 4:14
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    Asking passwords is DEFINITELY not legal!!! You can do 2 things: contact your lawyer asap (today) or give them login credentials. If you haven't done any work indeed then it will reassure them. But WHATEVER you do, do it in written. Be ready to have traces. If your boss is asking you this orally, then send it to him via email. But do not do anything without traces. Since they asked you passwords, I guess they don't mean to fire you seriously. – Peter MV Jul 19 '13 at 16:08
  • I really feel that the answer to this should simply be 'talk to the lawyer'. Suggesting that the asker give in and give the company his/her passwords could open this person up for some other issues if the company pretends to be the employee. – jmort253 Sep 7 '13 at 0:52
  • Asking for password is slavery ultimatum. But since he does not want to consult a lawyer nor he wants to lose his job, what else he can do? – Peter MV Sep 7 '13 at 18:41
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You don't indicate where you are, so answering with any specific info is tricky, but...

The contract of employment you signed will have (probably) placed restrictions on any outside interests, although these are often far out-with what the law allows. Certainly, here in the UK, there are doctrines on Restraint of Trade, which make it illegal for companies to prevent you working for other people!

On the other hand, the manner of the process outlined suggests you are not in the UK...

I suggest you ask for an "on the record" meeting to discuss why they have the objection they do, and you can give assurance that there is no conflict of interest in what you are doing, and that it does not (nor will not) affect your performance at work.

Quite the opposite - you may learn new skills and techniques that could benefit them...

What you do in your own time is none of their business - as long as there are no conflicts of interest.

  • Andrew, you mentioned "Restraint of Trade" in the UK. I am not in the UK, but doesn't this or similar rule allows employers to forbid you working in the same field for X number of months? – Peter MV Jul 19 '13 at 16:10
  • Yes, it is also important where you are. I would say some 3rd world country since your boss behaves like this. – Peter MV Jul 19 '13 at 16:19
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    PeterMV - there is plenty of Case Law that throws out such restrictions... employers keep including them in contracts, but in most cases they are unenforceable – Andrew Jul 19 '13 at 20:13
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If you are in India, you're in trouble. It's illegal as per India law to have two jobs. My advice is assuming you are based in India.

I will give you a general and least ethical but most practical advice. However, it is really important to see your job contract to give proper advice.

Firstly, their decision of sacking off just for sending a proposal was unfair. This gives me an idea that you are working in a small firm that only cares for more business and more money.

If you have never done any freelancing since you got this job, you can simply ask them to buzz off. They can never do anything to you.

If you are a Web Developer/SEO/Writing guy you can in fact threaten them to stop or else this matter can go on the internet. If they really care for their reputation, then they will take this seriously and finish this off.

If you want peace of mind, then ultimately the most they will want from you is money. I personally don't recommend this, but in case they are asking for something that is affordable to you, you can pay them. But since they already didn't pay you for two months, I recommend asking them for a proper relieving letter and experience letter, otherwise take this to Twitter and everywhere on the Web.

  • Do you have a reference for this law - I'm genuinely interested as to the rationale! Thanks – Andrew Sep 6 '13 at 19:46
  • My bad, my current search results only fetch that "it's not illegal". But I remember researching this a few years back, and i found that it was Illegal. However here are the labour laws for India - caaa.in/Image/19ulabourlawshb.pdf – Atif Mohammed Ameenuddin Sep 6 '13 at 19:57
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  1. Tell your boss about why and what exactly you are planning and ask if it is legal by your contract you have.
  2. Inform yourself about extra taxes you have to pay to the government or to the social system in your country.

In general, there are people doing this already, just for some little extra money (for holidays, gifts, etc..) which should be fine in most cases.

  • Hi netsetter, welcome to Freelancing SE, the Q&A site for Freelancing problems. I'm not 100% sure this addresses the problem the asker is facing. Can anyone working for a company open a freelancing account and can one be terminated for this? Taxes isn't really part of the question, so I encourage you to edit and clarify on the points in the question. Hope this helps, and welcome to our community! :) – jmort253 Jul 20 '13 at 17:55
  • @jmort253: Well, even taxes are not part of the question, I noted it as second step since the question was also about "if it is legal", so even the boss will allow this, depending on the country you work in and the amount of money you will receive, there might be this second step which people often forget and could result in unwanted trouble. That's the reason I answered more than asked in this case. – user503 Jul 20 '13 at 19:34
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    Hey @netsetter, that's not really the part that concerns me. Many users often add extra stuff they think is important, and that's awesome. The concern is that the answer doesn't appear to address the question being asked, which first and foremost is the goal of our site. Your post isn't terrible; it's definitely helpful, but I encourage you to think about the main problem: Can anyone working for a company open a freelancing account and can someone be terminated for this? My suggestion is to maybe expand and explain how one might avoid termination for freelancing. Hope this helps clarify. :) – jmort253 Jul 20 '13 at 22:40
  • @jmort253: Understood ;-) – user503 Jul 21 '13 at 23:44

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