Can Your Boss own Your Side Hustle in Nigeria?

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“Necessity is the mother of invention; bills are the fuel for the hustler”

The Nigerian economy is harsh yet the bills keep piling up and they have to be settled. The Corona virus pandemic has pushed most Nigerians into economic trouble especially as most workers have experienced pay cuts, layoffs, compulsory leave etc.

Infact, there is a great mindshift from White collar jobs towards skill aquisition and small scale business ownership. People are beginning to look inwards and some have rediscovered themselves. For these set of individuals, it’s side hustle(s) all the way.

Can Your Boss own Your Side Hustle in Nigeria?
Image source: INTHEBLACK

What is a side hustle?

This generally means that you have other stream or streams of income other than your main stream of income. People engage in side hustles to support their meagre and/or main income and to live well at least. Others do so just to improve their networth. It’s is a very common cliche to hear that you don’t become wealthy from a single source of income or salary. This is the reason why finance experts encourage us to diversify our income base.

Side Hustles You Can engage in

Most times people engage in buying and selling of items, event anchoring, event planning etc. to support their monthly income.

However, I have discussed Side Hustles You Can Venture Into especially in today’s period of social distance and remote working. You can take a look at them. Most of them require little or no capital to start off.

Can Your Boss Own Your Side Hustle?

The answer to the above question depends on the contract of employment you have signed with your employer. Every contract of employment contains the terms and conditions that would government the employment relationship. See the case of Abayomi v. Saap-tech (Nig.) Ltd (2020) 1 NWLR pt. 1706.
Some of the terms include;
a. Terms on determination
b. Terms on notice
c. Terms on wages and allowances
d. Terms on benefits, leave, etc.

Sample Scenarios Where Your Boss Can Own Your Side Hustle?

As an employee, if you run a side hustle, it might be dangerous depending on the nature of your job. For instance, if your employer is an eatery and you are into cooking and delivery of food as a side hustle, you might be going against your contract of employment if it contains a term prohibiting you from working with it’s competitor in future or engaging in that particular trade in the future so as to guard trade secrets. Hence, if your employer decides to seek damages, he might demand a declaration of ownership rights over your side hustle.

Again, the nature of your profession might prevent you from engaging in side hustle personally unless you are ready to stop practicing the profession. For instance, as a legal practitioner, you cannot practice law and at the same time engage in business, brand influencing or modelling. You have to choose law or other occupations. Law is a very jealous profession. The common thing is to have a shadow identity via a company or a business name for the purpose of running a business as a lawyer.

Sometimes, an employee might have assigned his rights to future inventions during the course of working with his/her employer in the employment contract. In such instances, the employer can assert ownership rights to his inventions even when done outside the office. This means that the employer will become the new owner of your side hustle.

Furthermore, if your job requires total devotion like investment banking and surgery and your employment contract expressly prohibits side activities, nevertheless, you still go ahead to have side hustle, you might be fired for mis-conduct or for conflict of interest.

Hence, a side hustle can be a good thing. As noted earlier, whether or not your boss can own your side hustle depends on the content of your employment agreement, the custom of your occupation, the internal policies of where you work, the code of conduct of your profession amongst others.

However, to be on the safest side, seek legal advise before embarking on capital intensive side hustles to prevent heartbreak.

Keywords: Side hustles, Boss, Employment Contract

Chinecherem Ubaka is a legal practitioner based in Lagos, Nigeria. She can be contacted via

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Check out: How to Start a Start-up in Nigeria

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