When you’re working as an employee, is it okay to do freelance work for others as a software developer? It depends.
If you’re employed as a software developer, there’s a good chance your employer doesn’t want you moonlighting, particularly if you’re doing work for your employer’s competitors.
If you have an employment agreement, be sure to read it carefully to see if you’re permitted to freelance. And if there’s not a written contract between you and your employer, you’ll still want to discreetly check to see if there’s an employment policy against moonlighting.
Note that employers want (a) your best efforts as an employee and (b) to prevent trade secrets and other confidential information being shared with actual or potential competition. Freelancing as a software developer raises concerns that you’re slacking off as an employee to make money elsewhere plus potentially leaking valuable information.
But what if there’s no legal restriction on moonlighting? How should you proceed?
First, it’s a good idea to avoid freelancing for your employer’s competitors. To do so can create a mess where you end up fired, lose your freelance gig, and there’s a nasty lawsuit.
To add an additional layer of protection, consider setting up a single member limited liability company (LLC) or similar entity that will contract for your freelance software development projects instead of signing the contracts as an individual.
Of course, you’ll want to use a professionally prepared software development agreement template for your freelance gigs. Get it from an experienced software lawyer. Don’t “borrow” someone else’s agreement to use for your projects because it won’t contain all of the terms designed to protect you (and may actually contain provisions that hurt you) plus you may be engaging in intellectual property theft without the right to use the contract.
If you need help putting the right legal documents in place to work as a freelance software developer, the first step is to set up a phone consultation with Software Lawyer Mike Young.