Employees Turn to Moonlighting to Combat the Financial Downturn

Delaware busineses, like the rest of the country, have felt the pinch of a slowed economy. Delaware employees are no exception. Secondary employment or moonlighting has become common as a result.

The continually increasing and record-high price of gas has made it difficult for some to make ends meet. The Department of Labor (DOL) reports that the number of workers working two jobs has increased 5% since last year. Some workers have resorted to a second job in an effort to protect themselves from financial devastation. Others want to maintain a certain lifestyle and have taken additional employment to ensure they are able to make nonessential purchases. Despite how commonplace moonlighting may become, the practice has real consequences for employers, especially for the business where the employee works full-time.


Employers should consider implementing a moonlighting policy if they don’t have one already in place. Some policies prohibit moonlighting outright. Of course, the risk of this is that your employees may be forced to find a full-time job that doesn’t have sucha restriction–especially if the employee’s financial state is particularly serious.

Other policies permit secondary employment but require the employee to obtain approval in advance. This enables the employer to addres any potential conflict of interest in advance if, for example, the employee wanted to work part-time for a competitor. Another benefit of pre-approval disclosure is that it gives the employer the opportunity to offer additional overtime hours or even a wage increase to keep the employee working only at the primary job.

There are two main concerns for employers when their workers seek additional employment. First, by adding more working time to their already difficult schedules, employees are more likely to experience high levels of stress or burnout. That is why some policies permit moonlighting but warn that, if the employee’s performance suffers as a result, he may be required to resign from his second job.

Another, less prevalent concern is the type of work the employee may take. For example, some businesses in the professional services industries, such as law, medicine, and finance, may be uncomfortable with the idea of a female employee working as a cocktail waitress at the local pub.

A different set of problems can occur if the employee takes part-time work with a competitor. In that case, the employer risks losing what may be a highly valued worker to the secondary employer. But you also risk the possibility that confidential information or trade secrets may be disclosed, whether inadvertently or intentionally.

If you do permit employees to moonlight, be sure you have a policy in place that clearly communicates the conditions and consequences, if any, that come with secondary employment.

Any of the employment lawyers in our Wilmington, Delaware office can assist you in drafting your moonlighting policy.