There are many benefits and military laws that most military and even lay persons are unaware of. One such law and requirement is regarding off-duty employment. While participating in service discussion boards online, members mostly inquire about the procedure for obtaining approval for off-duty employment. They are also often informed that to launch a small business, and a document is necessarily needed to be signed. As many people wish or are compelled to perform off-duty employment due to various reasons, here is some detail for you regarding the same. Read on to learn about off-duty employment.

Requirements for Off-Duty Employment

The first thing to understand when attempting to obtain approval for off-duty employment is that each unit is free to establish its standards. The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Air Force have the same criteria. The Outside Activities Section of the Ethics Counselor’s Deskbook contains the essential information given by the DOD about off-duty jobs. 

In general, your external occupation must not conflict with your military obligations and must not threaten defense or readiness. One should also be confident with the Ethics Counselor’s Deskbook’s criteria, as many only apply to people with higher positions than most people will ever hold. You can also ask the ethics advisor at the law firm regarding any queries you may have about the off-duty employment requirements.

Additionally, numerous other sources are listed in The Ethics Counselor’s Deskbook that can be helpful for some people’s circumstances. For instance, you can adhere to Air Force Instruction 35-101 when speaking at public gatherings (Public Affairs).

Reason For Acquiring Permission

While most people still might be thinking about why military people have to acquire permission for off-duty employment, there are a few highly responsible reasons.

The first is that “in the military, you are on duty 24/7,” something you have probably heard before. This is somewhat accurate. Although you may not have a set schedule, you are always at risk of being called into work. 

Second, your leader must ensure that your second assignment won’t jeopardize your security or the safety of people nearby. There may be serious repercussions if your off-duty occupation impacts your ability to carry out your military duties. 

Thirdly, it needs to review potential ethical transgressions in your extracurricular activities. This will likely be fine if you anticipate working as a pizza delivery driver. 

And certainly, this also pertains to small businesses that are run from homes and other places. You don’t need to be concerned with this if you bake a cake for a friend’s child’s birthday party or once twice a year. But if you’re starting a side hustle as a cake decorator or making $20,000 a month by selling on eBay, you must likely acquire permission to work outside your regular job.

Approval for Off-Duty Employment

If you’ve decided to work for a company outside the military, you should start by talking to your boss. They should consult with you to determine whether your strategy is workable, given your existing workload and schedule. Additionally, you should talk about the type of job you want and whether it aligns with your aspirations. 

Starting your home-based business may be the simplest method to supplement your military income. Your boss may more likely support your off-duty work if you set your timetable. You’ll also need to seek your commander’s approval for the off-duty occupation once your supervisor is on board. You might also need approval from the legal office and an ethics office based on the local regulations governing your unit.


Having off-duty employment while still working in the military can be a great source of income; however, it requires a great deal of dedication and formal permission from your commander. If you require more detailed and lawful information on this, or want to learn about off-duty employment, feel free to contact our Armed Forces Benefits Network experts for the most professional and skilled lawful advice and guidance.