In another case, an employee reported that when he wasn’t happy at his old company and started job searching, he received two job offers relatively quickly, and accepted both. He now works remotely for two non-conflicting Silicon Valley-based companies and wanted to know if this was unethical.
These are real stories of employees who have been two-timing their primary employers by taking up and working on second jobs simultaneously. This is also known as Moonlighting.
Moonlighting is the practice of working on a second job outside normal business hours of the primary job. For example, an employee may work a 9-to-5 job for his primary source of income and additionally work during the nights for another job to earn extra money. Most employers or private organizations have policies in place that prohibit this and take strict actions against the employees taking up a second job while for some organizations, their employee’s second jobs do not matter especially when they are on a temporary contract. Employees may opt for a second job for additional income if they have low pay at their primary jobs and need additional source of income to meet their needs or the primary income may not be sufficient to take care of the demands of their lavish lifestyle. In case of job dissatisfaction where employees are unhappy with the job profile, opportunities, or career growth. Employees may also consider a second job to gain additional skills or indulge in work profiles they are more passionate about. Or simply to utilize the free time at hand when employees do not have enough work to keep them occupied at their primary jobs or to keep themselves busy throughout the day.
As per industry reports, the reasons moonlighting employees give for working on multiple jobs are:
- to have more to spend
- to pay off debt
- to add to their savings/investment
- to gain additional work experience
- to pursue their passion
- to combat boredom
While the pandemic has resulted in work from home culture for the majority of the population, it has surged the number of moonlighting cases as it has become easier for employees to work on a second job or business without their primary employer’s knowledge. In the year 2020, with the onset of COVID-19 leading to lockdown, the economy started stalling and hence thousands of employees were laid off. This also led to employees searching and/or working for multiple jobs to maintain job security and a steady flow of income with as many as 70% of remote workers working on second jobs.
Although moonlighting may not be a major threat to some employers, the management should keep their eyes open for some signs and take disciplinary action if it starts impacting the company. Some pointers when employers should act: moonlighting is against the company policy, moonlighting is shifting towards daylighting, the second job may be illegal, it is affecting the employee’s productivity, risk of data and confidential information leakage.
Many companies deploy tools and techniques to detect and prevent risks associated with moonlighting such as data leakage and daylighting. These techniques result in a day red flags report that highlights employees that may be exhibiting behaviours of moonlighting and show indication of data leakage or abuse of intellectual property of the company.
Is moonlighting legal or illegal? That depends on the employers and their terms of appointment. Employers may discourage their employees from moonlighting out of concerns on conflicts of interest, impact on primary job performance, misuse of company resources, absenteeism, poor attentiveness, or fatigue. It is important for employees to always check their employment contract with their primary job to ensure compliance with moonlighting policies if any before seeking out secondary jobs or business. Employers should ensure that their employment and other policies such as IT and the employment contract are clear about the company’s stance around moonlighting. Employers should also look at conducting a rapid assessment to identify any red flags using techniques and tools specifically designed to detect and report activities related to moonlighting.
(The writer is Senior Managing Director – India, Ankura Consulting Group)
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