Juggling two or more part-time jobs, or “moonlighting”, has always been the norm for many people struggling to make ends meet. This is especially true in the gig economy, with many people working on several platforms at once. However, recently, with the rise of the work-from-home trend, some full-time employees found a way to double their income without increasing their hours.
Working from home with little supervision and no nosy colleagues looking over their shoulders, these employees discovered the capability to manage a second job all the while on the clock for their first job. They simply have another computer or laptop running at their workstation, and switch back and forth between the two jobs. Some seek employment by a second company, others run their own business on the side. For the purposes of this article, we’ll refer to this setup as “two-timing”
As much as some employees may view two-timing as ethically ambiguous, employees may not actually be breaking any laws or even violating their employment agreements unless proper policies are in place. Employers are obviously not going to appreciate two-timing employees, but for some employees, the benefit of increasing their income outweighs the risk of being discovered and falling into disfavor with their employers. However, employers have good reason to be wary of employees working several jobs concurrently.
The Consequences of Two-Timing
While it sounds like a flawless plan for employees, this “two-timing” scheme risks serious consequences. First, if one or both employers find out that you are working two jobs at the same time, they may fire you for cause, since no law protects the right of employees to engage in two occupations at the same time. Second, the room for everyday errors, such as sending an email to the wrong person or from the wrong domain, or scheduling conflicting meetings, is significantly greater when managing two distinct jobs. Importantly, however, when both jobs are in the same industry, there is the heightened risk of disclosing confidential client information or trade secrets to a competitor or violating the common-law duty of loyalty to one employer. This risk is greater when employees are running their own business in the same industry as they may be tempted to poach clients or trade secrets to promote their own business.
How Employers Can Prevent Two-Timing
First, and foremost, is communication. Have a conversation with your employees about what the expectations are. Two-timing employees often live by the motto that secrets are best kept when not spoken of. By communicating and maintaining an open dialogue, employers can gain insight into the employee’s habits and practices, all the while enforcing company policy on time management.
Second, reinforce company policy. Employers can include in employee contracts and in policy handbooks provisions related to both moonlighting and two-timing. If it does not already, your employee agreements and an employee handbook should explicitly prohibit employees from engaging in other, for-profit employment while working on behalf of the company. Similarly, you should ensure that your non-compete and non-disclosure provisions are drafted correctly to apply both during and after the termination of employment.
Finally, there is corporate loyalty. Much like the “The Great Resignation,” two-timing often stems from the corporate culture and employees not caring about their work. By taking measures to engage employees, such as stocks, bonuses, or even simply celebrating team accomplishments, employers can increase brand loyalty and keep employees invested in their jobs.
If you are interested in having your company’s policies or contracts reviewed, or if you are an employee interested in discussing your rights, give us a call at (410) 522-1020 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced employment attorneys.