Are you “overemployed?”

Balancing a side hustle, while keeping your full-time job
KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 6:54 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -Almost half of American workers earn extra money through a side business. The number is even higher for GenZ, at 62%, and 55% of Millennials, according to a Lending Tree survey.

In fact, Arizona is rated one of the best places to start a side hustle. But, not all bosses are happy that the pandemic ushered in this era of what some call “overemployment.” So, how do you earn extra money - while protecting your career?

Social worker Zoraida Ramirez knew people who were a rental increase or medical emergency away from being out on the street. When she graduated from college and started her first job after the worst of the pandemic, she wanted to protect herself with an extra source of income.

“It’s not the highest income field, but I’m very passionate about it, so I love doing that but I felt like I needed something else to just kind of help out,” Ramirez said. “My first thought was, ‘what am I good at that I could monetize to make extra cash?’ I remembered doing hair as early as middle school for quinceaneras and school dances.”

Zoraida only does hair when she’s not at her full-time job, which is aware of her side hustle.

”They’ve asked me about it. They’re very curious about it, but they’re totally fine with it,” Ramirez said.

She’s taking the right approach, said attorney Emily Ward, Business Litigation Director for Fennemore in Phoenix.

”It actually benefits both the employer and the employee just to have that information up front so there are no surprises,” Ward said.

Arizona is an at-will state, which means workers can be terminated for any reason that is not discriminatory. That includes even the appearance that a side gig is interfering with your main gig.

So, while it’s within your rights to have a side hustle, you’ll want to consider the right balance for your boss.

”Are you doing what’s asked of you, are you engaged, are you ready to work given that your employer is paying you for your time and expects you to be engaged in your work during the time they’re paying you for?” Ward asked.

She suggests making sure the two don’t overlap during work hours - and social media has made it much more obvious when they are.

One caveat: if you have an employment contract, read it carefully.

”If, in the contract or the written policies, there is a prohibition on side hustles or additional work, then employees would want to make sure they’re abiding by the terms of that,” Ward said.

When done right, Ward says employees, employers, and side hustles can all work in harmony. Studies show having a passion outside of work can increase productivity, so many bosses welcome the extra energy, confidence, and security that gives valued employees, like Ramirez.

“I do think it’s important to have something that no one else can really take away from you that you are really in charge of to keep you afloat,” Ramirez said.

Keep in mind, remote work is a different animal. Some employers don’t mind, as long as the work gets done - while a few CEOs have called this brand of overemployment “stealing.” The same rule of thumb holds true here: be open with your boss.