Moonlighting - a fraud or a manifestation of employee resourcefulness?
March 23, 2023

Moonlighting - a fraud or a manifestation of employee resourcefulness?

Many of the recent trends in the labor market would not have emerged without the coronavirus pandemic, for others we would have to wait from a few to several years. Remote recruitment, hybrid work, co-financing for home office equipment, remote integration, quiet quitting and finally overemployment - the pandemic has introduced all these phenomena to the labor market. Most of them would not be possible without the widespread use of remote work.

What is overemployment?

Overemployment or – in other words – moonlighting, refers to people who are employed in two or more full-time jobs without their employers finding out about the others.The phenomenon is the most popular in the IT industry, in positions related to programming, where it is possible to work completely remotely or work is based-on completed tasks.

While working from home, employees can afford a more relaxed approach to their presence at work - jump between meetings, dismiss meetings, arrange job interviews during work. Nobody is able to verify their constant presence in front of the computer, so employers must rely on trust, and this - as research shows - is often undermined.

Davis Bell, CEO of Canopy, which caught its employees working for two companies on an 8-hour workday, calls this practice theft and fraud:

Whenever I read stories in the media about people doing this I'm usually surprised that they don't make a bigger deal of the core moral issues at play: "working" two full-time jobs is stealing, and it also involves a great deal of lying and deception.

Davis Bell, Canopy

The heads of Wipro, Tata Consultancy Services and Equifax also have a similar opinion.

Can I ask about overemployment during an interview?

Of course, you can ask about overemployment during an interview, but does such a question make sense? Can we count on the candidate's sincerity? Can we verify his answer? These are rhetorical questions.

As the promoter of this movement, the creator of the website known as Isaac, says, the most common mistake that plunges practitioners of double employment is admitting to it:

The golden rule. First and foremost, don’t talk about working two remote jobs, not even with family members outside of your household. If you can’t keep a secret to yourself, how can you expect others to do the same when they’ve no skin in the game? We made this rule for your own protection. Most who got caught working two jobs were because of a shared connection inside their network. Remember, loose lips sink ships.

Isaac P.,

He also developed 11 other rules that multi-time workers should follow. As an employer, it is worth getting acquainted with them in order to understand the functioning of this type of person and to detect such a person faster after employment. However, is there a way to detect an overemployed person at the recruitment stage? It's very difficult, but not impossible.

How to detect an overemployed person during recruitment?

  • Pay attention to the resume

Employees who are not very skilled in hiding their employment in many companies may admit to it when applying for a job. Check if the experiences entered in the resume overlap. If so, ask the candidate what the reason was. Suspicions may also arouse very frequent changes in employment or gaps in employment history. According to the "good practices" listed on the website, it is ok to omit part of the employment history in the CV, so ask the candidate in detail about his experience, the specificity of the role he performed and completed projects. Extremely sporadic promotions can also catch your attention - it is rare for an employee to be a junior for many years.

  • Put your ears up when asking why candidate want to leave current job

Suspicions in this case may be aroused by the lack of convincing justification of the reasons for changing jobs. The candidate is unable to answer this question? Perhaps because he has no intention of leaving his previous job at all. If the justification seems not very specific to you, ask about the work culture in the current project, relations in the team, pluses and minuses of the current company. Note down the answer and compare it with feedback from people who conducted further stages of recruitment.

  • Try to "scare" the candidate with the need to get involved

Emphasize in the conversation that integration events are frequent and employees like to spend time together. A person who wants to work two jobs at the same time will not be willing to enter into close relationships in the team. If you are recruiting for an internal team, e.g. a product team, emphasize that we want the employee to feel responsible for this product, that "wearing many hats" is expected, as well as helping other team members or frequent communication. An overemployed person will avoid involvement like the plague.

  • Pay attention to questions

Candidate asking about meeting policy? Want to know management details? Settlement of working time? When answering, try to find out what he/she is afraid of in this matter. You can ask about experiences from other companies, or about preferred working style.

  • Ask for refferences

You have big doubts about the candidate, but for some reason you are still considering hiring him/her? Ask for references. In this case, the candidate will often reply that he did not say about leaving in current job. This is completely natural, but don't be put off - ask for references from previous employers. If that doesn't work, you can look for common contacts and ask for feedback.

Want more ideas on how to screen a candidate during an interview? The above-mentioned website will come to your aid. The author share ways to hide dual employment plans during recruitment, so why can't you use that article to your favour?

Is overemployment even legal?

This practice is usually not illegal, although the legislation on this issue varies from country to country. In Poland, there have been no regulations that would directly regulate the issue of additional employment, the dispute over the possibility of limiting this practice by employers lasted for years.

In the EU, there is Directive (EU) 2019/1152 of the European Parliament and of the Council of June 20, 2019 on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union, which prohibits this type of restriction. Therefore, in accordance with the guidelines, the employer cannot draw consequences against employees that would directly result from performing two jobs at the same time.

Article 9
Parallel employment

1. Member States shall ensure that an employer neither prohibits a worker from taking up employment with other employers, outside the work schedule established with that employer, nor subjects a worker to adverse treatment for doing so.
2. Member States may lay down
conditions for the use of incompatibility restrictions by employers, on
the basis of objective grounds, such as health and safety, the
protection of business confidentiality, the integrity of the public
service or the avoidance of conflicts of interests.

Interpretations of this directive may vary significantly depending on the country and, as a result, narrow or expand the possibility of pursuing two jobs. For example, according to the Polish legislator, the possibility of prohibiting additional employment exists only if it is related to competitive activity and a non-competition agreement has been signed between the employee and the employer.

Is overemployment always bad?

There are companies that take the position that they do not see a problem with employees who are overemployed as long as their work meets the expectations and standards prevailing in the company.

C.P. Gurnani, CEO of Tech Mahindra, says he has no objection to his employees taking second jobs, as long as they are open about it, and meet productivity and efficiency norms:

If you go by my word if someone is meeting the efficiency and productivity
norms, and he wants to make some extra money as long as he is not committing
fraud, he is not doing something against the values and ethics of his company,
I have no problem. I would like to make it a policy. So, if you want to do it,
cheers to that, but be open about it.

C.P. Gurnani, Tech Mahindra

Similar opinion has Linda Shaffer, chief people and operations officer at Checkr, a San Francisco-based HR tech firm:

As long as they’re meeting their deadlines, not overworking themselves and still have time to rest and spend with their families, then there's no problem,” Shaffer says. “The issue would be when they start to neglect their responsibilities or fail to follow through with their commitments. That's when it becomes a problem. We currently don’t have a policy against this, but we may consider implementing one in the future if it becomes an issue.

Linda Shaffer, Checkr

You can find more opinions on this topic in the HRD article.

Have you encountered this type of phenomenon in your work? How does your company approach this problem? Do you consider it a fraud or, on the contrary, a manifestation of the employee's resourcefulness? Share your opinion with us in the comments on Linkedin.

Anna Cichy
Product Manager