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Frank Murch

Side Projects in the Shop

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Side Projects in the Shop

I have always allowed my employees to build stuff in the back on their own time.  These are normally a banner for the kid’s big game, or a sign about a “hole in one” or address numbers or often car detailing – stickers on a car. It has not been a problem.

I have one employee that is doing side jobs (for money) in the back. I am  beginning to feel that I may be being taken advantage of. My attitude is starting to change.

I am looking for your help.  After thinking about it My questions kind of fit in a few areas:

 

SCOPE

1. I have no problem with allowing employees to use shop equipment for occasional personal projects

2. Should I control the size and number of side jobs?

 

MATERIALS

1. I have no problem with using the company’s trade accounts to buy materials for an employee when they cover the cost

2. Do I give away excess material? Do I even know what is really walking out the door in the back?

3. Excess (or “waste”) material use? We do not want to encourage deliberate culling of waste material during the day to use it to build a project at night. But if it was going to the dumpster – I do not mind. How can I even tell??

4. Would all the “scrap” used be approved by me? It beats having to pay to have it hauled off, but I do not want to get into the weeds. Am I interested in becoming the scrap police?

1. If the “employee” gets injured while using machinery that you gave him permission to use on his own time, the insurance company will not view the injured person as an employee and workman’s comp will not cover the injury?

2. Allow someone to use your shop for his personal purposes you are risking your company if somebody gets hurt?

 

RELATIONS

1. Maybe an employee will appreciate the opportunity? If it makes them happy and it doesn’t hurt the business, it’s a win/win?

2. I feel like giving my guys an opportunity to do smaller projects I don’t want to be bothered with puts money in their pockets.

3. If I encourage personal projects and it helps in skill development does this give me better, happier workers?

4. Should there be time limitations?  After work in OK, but is late night on the weekends?

The problem is it is a gray area question. I didn’t rent a building, stock it with tools and supplies, hire employees whom I have to pay to provide a place to pursue their side job. It creates some good will (positive) and it opens up problems (negative). Where is the balance??

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I would have no problem with personal projects, but I wouldn't allow projects for profit, you're fitting all the overhead and more.  

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Sooner or later they (employees) always take advantage of a great situation.  I allow my employees to build small projects for themselves, not for resale.  If they need something for their kids team, a B Day, Anniversary... I'm cool with that.  I let them work on their vehicles, borrow a trailer and truck to move.  But when it comes to money, regardless of the amount.  If it's happening in my shop, it's my money.

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This is a no win for the owner.   Yes I allow my employees to make their own projects for their own usage. They can do it on their time only
They let me know before they start and tell me what it is for and what they are going to use.
In General, I have no real concerns or problems. If it keeps everyone happy, so be it.
Here is the problems........
It amazes me how fast they get their work completed, start to finish. Why cant they do my work as fast ? 
I let them use everything and anything they need to. Complete access to everything.
I ask that they pay for all new materials, ( Sometimes )  Otherwise I hope they use scraps if they can
When they have to reach into their pockets to pay, it becomes a fight on material costs.
Ask about Labor Costs and they will tell how many minutes they used.
Forget about any damages to my equipment, Don't go there because it would have happened at anytime.
You cant win on this subject.  

When I see them abuse the " Benefits " I stop it. 
 

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I agree with the other guys.  I allow my folks to use my place for their own stuff.  Never for profit.  I think it sends the message to the customer that it was so small you didn't want to mess with it.  I don't ever want one of my customers to feel that way.  Like with anything else, there is always going to be that one that you give an inch and they take 10 miles and abuse it.  If ever one of mine abused it, it would stop for all.  I am kind to a point, but don't take advantage of my kindness.  Sounds like you already know what you need to do.  Probably going to be hard to do it, but you can't let employees, no matter how great, to take advantage of you.  Especially while using your place, your equipment and your materials!  Not cool.

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It may different with us, as we are wholesale to the trade only.  If its for a friend or relative fine, but thats the extent of it in regards to signs.  I will do charity work on the clock.  If its other stuff like fix a trailer weld a ______ for themselves or friends they are welcome. Most of the time give the material away within reason.  Now if they are getting paid for it then I want to be reimbursed for electric and everything. If it a big project I want a cut as its my overhead and machinery they are getting use of. I gave 2 qts of paint away 3 minutes ago FWIW. 

 But if you do business on your project on my time which I consider theft , steal from me or sell signs you are fired. 

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Typed this earlier, but it must not have posted

I allow my folks to use my shop, equipment and scrap materials for their own stuff, but never for profit.  If they have to have more than I have in scrap, they have to buy it at my cost. 

I don't mind one bit if they do their kids projects, or banners for their sports teams - on their own time.  There is always going to be that one that takes advantage - give them an inch and they take 10 miles and screw it up for everybody else.  If I find one of mine doing that, I will stop it for everybody.  If they take advantage of my kindness, it stops.  I want to keep my guys happy too - but not to my detriment. I don't ever let my guys do the "small stuff" because I don't want my customer to feel like I didn't want to do their small job.  Don't ever want a customer to feel like that. 

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Haha -- computer updated between the first one and the second one!  Well, you get to read my thoughts 2 times today!  LOL

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We stopped doing this years ago on the recommendation of our insurance carrier.  We were advised if the employee is injured when in our shop we would be subject to workmen's compensation.  It did not matter if they were on the clock or not.

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Wayne is right about the workman's compensation. A show on one of the popular TV court shows had a similar case in which the business was held responsible. I have bee amazed over my 44 yrs in the business at what the employees seem to think they are entitled too. We used to let an employee drive the company bucket truck home as to give him a break in his travel to and from work expenses and found he was trimming trees after hours and on weekend. Any accidents or damages became our responsibilty.

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Side jobs have always been a fact of life in the sign game (not saying I approve) and it was a big issue back when my father was around and in charge.   I don't allow any for profit side jobs since I "took over the payments".   If they need a banner for the local cub pack, etc. I'll probably even do the layout.   However, if it's a paying sign job, it goes to the company.   If the company doesn't make money, they will be out of a job. 

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4 hours ago, wizzy00 said:

Wayne is right about the workman's compensation. A show on one of the popular TV court shows had a similar case in which the business was held responsible. I have bee amazed over my 44 yrs in the business at what the employees seem to think they are entitled too. We used to let an employee drive the company bucket truck home as to give him a break in his travel to and from work expenses and found he was trimming trees after hours and on weekend. Any accidents or damages became our responsibilty.

 

 

WOW!  Now that's a whole new low.  Not to mention the fuel and truck wear & tear.  Like I said, there is always that one that will take 10 miles.

 

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First, Thank you!!!  All the comments were great and forced me to rethink.  I think i will modify the employee handbook and add this section

PERSONAL PROJECTS

You may do personal projects using the equipment, and shop. Here are the rules to do this:

- All project must be requested and approved. The form to do this is below.

- occasional personal projects “not for profit” like fixing your car, a banner for a birthday, a set of address numbers for the house, are generally not a problem.

- Projects involving a customer.

  1. If the project could be seen as in competition with the company, it will not be approved
  2. If this is a job the company would bid on, the job should go through the normal process and get an employee discount.
  3. If it is a paid project that is not of interest to the company, it may be approved, but there is a small charge to cover equipment wear, and utilities.
  • All material must be paid for or scrap be approved by the owner
  • All work areas must be left clear after use and/or at the start of the next shift
  • If you break a consumable tool (end mill, drill bits, small hand tools) you pay for. If it is a larger maintenance issue, I will cover it.

No side jobs get priority. Company jobs go first.

The approval form with the legal statement is attached.  Basically my thinking is this:  If it helps the employee and does not harm me - I am OK with it.  I need to stop and materials "walking away" and protect myself from an insurance point of view.  I also can not tolerate projects that are competitive to the business.  On the other hand, I do not care if a guy makes a $100 on the side - It is a perk that might keep a good employee here. So this is where I am landing

personal project approval form.docx

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43 minutes ago, Frank Murch said:

First, Thank you!!!  All the comments were great and forced me to rethink.  I think i will modify the employee handbook and add this section

PERSONAL PROJECTS

You may do personal projects using the equipment, and shop. Here are the rules to do this:

- All project must be requested and approved. The form to do this is below.

- occasional personal projects “not for profit” like fixing your car, a banner for a birthday, a set of address numbers for the house, are generally not a problem.

- Projects involving a customer.

  1. If the project could be seen as in competition with the company, it will not be approved
  2. If this is a job the company would bid on, the job should go through the normal process and get an employee discount.
  3. If it is a paid project that is not of interest to the company, it may be approved, but there is a small charge to cover equipment wear, and utilities.
  • All material must be paid for or scrap be approved by the owner
  • All work areas must be left clear after use and/or at the start of the next shift
  • If you break a consumable tool (end mill, drill bits, small hand tools) you pay for. If it is a larger maintenance issue, I will cover it.

No side jobs get priority. Company jobs go first.

The approval form with the legal statement is attached.  Basically my thinking is this:  If it helps the employee and does not harm me - I am OK with it.  I need to stop and materials "walking away" and protect myself from an insurance point of view.  I also can not tolerate projects that are competitive to the business.  On the other hand, I do not care if a guy makes a $100 on the side - It is a perk that might keep a good employee here. So this is where I am landing

personal project approval form.docx

 

 

I would check with my insurance agent to make sure this CYAs you.  I don't know about your area, but with my area if I were to type that up they would tell me it isn't worth the paper it is written on.  According to folks around here, I can't hold harmless anybody doing anything on my property.  I am responsible if they get hurt no matter what they are doing or when.

 

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