Do employers have a say in their employees’ side gigs?

More than a million Canadians are working multiple jobs, according to recent data. In fact, nearly 6% of our workforce has two (or more) jobs, the highest number since records began forty years ago.

Most of these extra-incomers (two thirds) already have full-time jobs. For employers, who expect workers at full capacity, that may be concerning. But is it an employer’s business if a worker takes on additional paying work?

 An Employee’s Right To Side Hustle

There’s no blanket law in Canada saying staff can’t moonlight. Both part-timers and full-timers are free to double-dip to their hearts’ content. Unless it interferes with their primary job.

Some example prohibitions to help govern your Code of Conduct. No moonlighting for a direct competitor. That’d create a conflict of interest, and possibly expose trade secrets. No doing side work during the main job’s office hours. Can’t use the regular employer’s premises, property or staff. Also, ixnay on marketing to a primary employer’s workforce without permission. 

What Employers Can Do About It

The landscape’s shifted with some recent court decisions. Employers can now use restrictive clauses against side jobs. There could also be an insistence on disclosure of secondary employment. Inclusion of these stipulations may support terminating the employee with just cause if they’re in violation.  

Even without these clauses, an employer has related rights. Let’s say an after-hours job interferes with a regular one. The worker starts showing up late (or not at all). Their productivity slides into the gutter. These might turn into grounds for dismissal. But the justification would need to be strictly performance-based, not the other job. 

Should You Let Staff Have A Side Job?

A couple of schools of thought on whether to crack down or not, the “forbid it” side makes a few good points. The staff know where their loyalty must be placed. There’s less chance of increased absenteeism, performance lags and IP theft from dual work commitments.

Except too much claim of control makes for feelings of oppression. And if you’ve been stingy with pay, maybe workers are starved for added cash. Anyway, allowing most outside gigs could benefit an employer. The jobholder may expand their skills on someone else’s dime and make contacts they bring back to their primary job. 

Making Your Position Clear

Got to let your people know whether moonlighting’s allowed or banned, and what conditions apply. If they give the go-ahead, you should mention the employees’ obligations — however, list abuses that won’t be tolerated, and possible penalties which may result. 

Put notices where staff will see and acknowledge them. Sticking the clauses into employment contracts give you signed an agreement. Outline the rules in policies and employee handbooks too.

People have different reasons for taking on other paid work. As a result, they know where you stand on this, and they can act accordingly.