Episode 117: My employee is moonlighting two jobs?!

On this episode of What the Hell Just Happened? Paul Edwards sits down with CEDR Solution Center Advisor Grace Godlasky to discuss an issue that happens more often than not in this current climate – an employee working two jobs without informing their employer. Employers everywhere struggle with ensuring their employees are always actively engaged in their work, and when an employee is secretly splitting their time between two jobs, this can cause issues. Listen as Paul and Grace analyze the risk level associated with particular predicament and hash out how to handle it in a safe and legally compliant way.


Voice Over: You’re about to listen to another episode of What The Hell Just Happened?! Join Paul Edwwards and his guests as they discuss and sometimes even solve some interesting HR problems. 

Paul: And… I’m gonna go off the rails sometimes and talk about whatever I want. 

Grace: Hi Paul.

Paul: Hey Grace.

Grace: So, the internet knows us really really well.

Paul: Us? You mean CEDR or just people in general?

Grace: Just people.

Paul: Oh my gosh. It does.

Grace: I don’t know what your targeted ads and like your social media feeds look like.

Paul: Mostly pasta makers and grills.

[Paul laughs]

[Grace laughs]

Grace: I was really hoping if you’re going to share that it was HR appropriate and it was.

Paul: It was.

Grace: Yeah, pasta makers, and grills. That’s really good. Mine’s a lot of mommy content but they also, the internet, the algorithms, they know that I’m into HR and employment law.

Paul: Oh yeah.

[Grace laughs]

Grace: And I get all these HR videos.

Paul: Oh no kidding?!

Grace: So, they know I’m a nerd. I even wore my glasses today…

Paul: Sweet!

Grace: …for this podcast just so we could talk about nerdy things. But I’ve seen a couple that I thought would be fun to talk about. There was one, and actually this wasn’t even an HR blog but they got me with their targeted video, and it was financial planning site, but they were celebrating people who had two remote jobs at the same time secretly. And the point of the video but I was kind of watching it from a different angle was “look at how great this is!” They’re paying off their mortgage, they’re out of debt, they paid down their credit, whatever it was. They paid on their credit card. Good for them. And I was thinking all about the employer’s perspective.

Paul: Our remote employees? Now, I’m wondering what they’re doing!

[Grace laughs]

Grace: And then the kind of the next thought was, well, our handbook covers that and how do we protect our employers from this happening to them and how often is this happening. I wanted to talk about that phenomenon a little bit.

Paul: Okay. So let the immediate observation. It is, okay so one of the things that we do when we work with our members and one of the things our members want to do. So, this is what we want from them and this is what they want from us is they want to be in integrity. They want to follow the laws. I can tell you it’s very rare. It has happened on occasion and we have had to let a member or two go over this… Whereby when we’re working through the issues in their office or we’re maybe just getting exposed to them and we discover that they’re doing something that’s not exactly copacetic. Maybe they’re not computing overtime quite correctly or they’re not paying bonuses properly or any myriad of things. I mean, it’s astounding how many of them are like “oh my gosh I didn’t know I need to fix this”. So, they really want to be in integrity.

Grace: Yeah.

Paul: And doing the right thing and following the laws and they’re really not trying to break any rules. So, with that in mind knowing that I’m an advocate for employers. I’m a small employer myself. I think that I’m just going to say this, maybe we have to cut it out later…

[Grace laughs]

Paul: I think that if your financial advisors are celebrating what is in effect wage theft, it calls into question that company in and of itself.

Grace: Yeah.

Paul: It’s not honest.

Grace: Yeah, the secrecy part of it, it in my brain immediately went to our moonlighting policy. If you have a CEDR handbook, everybody is required to disclose if they have another job.

Paul: Yup.

Grace: And then, on the one side, I’m with you like we’re employer advocates at CEDR and you want to go, “wait a minute, no!” And then, the other side is I think about well for years I’ve been taking calls in the Solution Center where people, you know, they waitress after work or they bartend after work and “hey, is that a problem and am I allowed to approve that?”. But now it’s like these things are happening at the same time and if they’re not disclosed that’s really the problem.

Paul: It really is the problem because you don’t have a say in it. So, here’s the thing.

Grace: Yeah.

Paul: If I gave you a say in it, Grace, if you were the employer, would you say “yeah, it’s okay for in one 5 minutes you work for me and in the next 5 minutes you work for someone else and then you come back in the next 5 minutes”? But the problem with that is look let’s take away the integrity and the moral issue here. Let’s talk about something called the Scrum principle.

Grace: Yeah.

Paul: This is a very well-known principle which has been researched to heck. And it was kind of founded around software and the idea that if you work on multiple things at the same time instead of focusing, instead of just focusing, it can take up to 10 times longer for each of those individual things to be accomplished.

Grace: Yeah.

Paul: So, I’ll say it again, because I have to say it again sometimes just so I understand that. If I have 10 things in front of me and each of those things are supposed to take one minute of a piece and I try to do all 10 of those things at the same time. Like switching from one thing to the other and keep switching gears, each of those things go from taking one minute to 10 minutes. So, the whole process is ten longer, right?

Grace: Yeah.

Paul: So, the defense to that is to you always want to narrow it down because we’re already on multitasking but now are we going to have an employee who’s multitasking in two different areas?

Grace: Two different jobs, yeah.

Paul: Yeah.

Grace: Just it seems impossible that you would be able to perform at the level you need to perform at for both.

Paul: Oh, let me tell you how it is possible. You have an employee who’s working for you and they have figured out how to do their job and because they’re an asset to you. You hired them because they’re an asset to you. But they figured out how to do their job for you and two hours a day because they can write code, because they know how to manipulate Excel, and they don’t tell you that they figure that out.

Grace: Yeah.

Paul: So, in other words, they are not expanding your capabilities and I think that’s what we expect from people and people expect from us.

Grace: Right.

Paul: Okay. We expect from people, employers, managers, owners, expect from the folks that we’re working, that are working with us and for us. We expect them to get more efficient, to make us better, to improve us, to improve our relationship to our customers, to our patients. It’s a symbiotic relationship. And in return, they expect us to get better and us meaning the employer, the manager. In other words, I think that, Grace, you expect, you’ve been here for a while now. I hope you’ve seen that I’ve gotten better.

Grace: Absolutely! And that T’s me up so perfectly. We couldn’t have even rehearsed it better because it’s not just this video. I’ve watched some that were and they’re funny. They’re hilarious where employees are like taping their mouse to their Roomba. I don’t know.

Paul: So, it’s showing that it’s moving.

Grace:  To keep them active, or to their fan or there’s actually I learned recently like a software you can install that’s like a random clicking software.

Paul: There’s actually a mouse pad that you can get from Amazon that actually fakes like it’s moving.

Grace: I didn’t know about the mouse pad. So, maybe this is just me being a little naive than that all these things already exist. People are out-teching each other.

Paul: It’s the radar detection scenario. They’d make better radars for the cops and they would make better detectors. And the same company was making both units.

Grace: So, we’re having a race! But it’s really also like an engagement issue. I think we have these videos, they have millions of likes out there online. Employees really relate to this stuff and as a manager and Paul you as a small business owner, you are kind of thinking like, well, what going on that they feel like they need to be doing this? Are they just like that disengaged and maybe it’s possible to be at big corporate America and be that disengaged but at small businesses, we need everybody to be engaged. I think most of our CEDR members are small businesses and building up that engagement and making sure you don’t have those people who are taping their mouses to their Roombas.

Paul: Right.

Grace: Is kind of phase two of that and I know you have lots and thoughts about engagement and that’s a buzzword right now but…

Paul: Yeah, I have lots of thoughts about engagement but this runs the gambit. The employees trying to make more money. And I’m typically not against it. We have the moonlighting policy in there so that we can make some kind of decision and put some parameters around it. Because if my manager comes to me and says, I’m going to be taking a full-time job managing a fast-food joint on the weekends because I’m trying to make ends meet then, this is not going to work for either one of us. Nobody can work 80 hours managing two different businesses. Now, I use an extreme there, but even working an extra 20 or 25 hours to make ends meet.

In the past, we’ve saw that in a lot of different ways. We’ve one of the suggestions, we have is just figure out some extra work form. Put it inside of the parameters of the business and say, you know what? I can help you earn some extra money. Let’s let you work some overtime. We’ve got these projects that need to get done. Let’s do this for the next few months. Let’s let me help you, you help me, and we continue to work together.

Grace: Yeah.

Paul: But I just got to tell you it I’ve seen those things too.

Grace: Yeah.

Paul: And it just makes my… it’s not okay. It’s not okay. But the world is changing around us and we’re having to take a close look at what’s going on.

Grace: Truly. Well, if we want to recap though I mean it really goes to that moonlighting policy. What it says and how I explain it to people is it requires employees to tell you if they’re working somewhere else.

Paul: So, you can be in choice.

Grace: And you can choose and it’s not the same as a non-compete. So, it doesn’t say you can’t work anywhere else.

Paul: Nope.

Grace: It says you got to tell us whether it’s you’re nannying on the weekends and it’s 6 hours and it’s not a conflict and we approve it. Or it’s I took another full-time billing job for another, you know, medical office…

Paul: Yeah.

Grace: …and I’m going to do both at the same time. And that’s when you’re going to have some questions and concerns and we always had that policy and it’s always been a very powerful policy. But now as we’re starting to like loosen up the reins a little bit with people working remotely. And people feeling like they can kind of maybe pull some of this stuff off and now it’s being celebrated a little bit that that policy becomes maybe even more important and more powerful as we’re seeing it applied in a different context.

Paul: I’m paying you full time for full-time work.

Grace: Yeah.

Paul: I’m paying you for a certain number of hours. There’s another policy in the handbook that says, these are the number of values. You’re a full-time employee you’re expecting. As an employer; I am trying to pay for things for you, with you, like I try and provide health insurance to make my contribution. There’s a lot that I’m doing, whereby you’re causing me some problems if you’re the employee doing this. Let’s not even talk about it over time.

Grace: Yeah.

Paul: Like what happens when you’ve been working for me and secretly working for someone else at the same time and then all of a sudden, you clock overtime.

Grace: Right.

Paul: Well, I think at that point, you’re stealing from me. I think you were stealing from me before and I’m not in choice as the employer.

Grace: Right.

Paul: So, you can see. You can tell from my tone that I have a lot of problems with this. Because I believe that we should be transparent with one another.

Grace: Absolutely. Yeah. It’s an interesting trend to watch and something I think will bubble up at a lot of our offices and worth spending a few minutes thinking about.

Paul: Crazy things.

Grace: Crazy.

Paul: That is a good what the hell just happened in HR. Yeah. That’s a good one. Thanks, Grace.

Grace: Yeah.

Paul: That was a curve. Didn’t solve that one. Thanks, Grace.

Grace: Sorry.

[Grace laughs]

[Paul laughs]

Voice Over: Thanks for joining us for this week’s episode of What The Hell Just Happened? do Paul a favor; share this with your network. If you have an HR issue or a question, you’d like us to discuss on this show, send it to podcast@WTHjusthappened.com. For more HR advice and insights from Paul and his team of experts, you can also join the private Facebook group, HR Base Camp, or visit HRbasecamp.com. Make sure you tune in next week. And remember: better workplaces make better lives.

Oct 18, 2022

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance based on applicable local, state and/or federal U.S. employment law that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.

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