Many employees are quick to seize upon new ways to maximize their income. Many choose to moonlight — but leave their employer in the dark about their second, or third, job.

In recent years moonlighting has evolved beyond simply working a second job in one’s off-hours. With many working from home, away from their bosses, and coworkers’ watchful eyes, some are “double dipping,” working for another employer, or for themselves, on their primary employer’s dime. With no one seeing the employee day to day or knowing specifically what they are doing at any given time, taking another job can be tempting. But it is a sure-fire way to be terminated for cause.

Picture this: It’s late 2021. You have been stuck at home for months on end on a work-from-home arrangement. The prospect of being called back to the office seems remote. You are anxious about job security and suddenly receive another job offer, which you can also perform from your home. So, you accept this position with hours overlapping those of your primary job. After all, you can handle the workload, and how could they ever find out? What is the worst that could happen?

Employers try to keep a close eye on employee productivity. If your employer discovers that you have been knitting baby jumpers for your Etsy shop, delivering food, or engaging in any sort of secondary employment while on company time, it will have good cause to terminate you.

Not all moonlighting will result in termination, though. Working multiple jobs is a harsh reality for many Canadians and a common sense economic choice for others, but employees do not have an unfettered right to work as many jobs, for as many hours as they wish, at their primary employer’s expense.

Even where grounds for cause cannot be made out, employers have every right to terminate an employee if the secondary job creates a conflict of interest, affects productivity or attendance, or involves the use of company resources. Unfair though this may seem to some, employers have no obligation to accommodate moonlighting employees.

To protect themselves from double dippers or dishonest moonlighters, employers (particularly those with remote workforces) should have policies requiring employees to disclose any secondary employment and prohibiting using company time or resources for outside work. Those policies should put employees on notice of the penalties for non-compliance.

To employees, our advice is simple. Be honest and smart. Employers value integrity. Unless you are senior, rarely will an employer take issue with you working in another job outside of normal working hours. Being honest will also provide you the opportunity to explain your circumstances and, if you are fired, bolster a claim for wrongful dismissal. But do not gamble your day job on the chance that double dipping will temporarily boost your income.

We have had several cases involving employees working from home prior to COVID-19. In almost every one of them, we learned during the discovery process that the employee in question had been working on other jobs as well. In one, the employee admitted that the reason he did not want to move from New Brunswick to the office in Calgary was because he would have to give up his other (several) undisclosed “jobs.” In every such case, the employer’s case became immediately stronger.

Employees should beware and employers should ensure they have a handle on their employees’ whereabouts and the policies to regulate that.