Following the economic hardship many employees have taken to ‘moonlighting’, or working a second job in addition to their normal working day. This can cause issues such as tiredness and lack of productivity but an area of concern is what can employers do if the employee is taking part in a second job during their contracted hours?

You need to consider when the employee is working this second job. If they are working during a sickness absence you should not immediately jump to the conclusion that they are being dishonest about their ability to work. An illness may mean that they cannot perform the job you contract them to do but may not stop them from carrying out other work. In this instance, you should carry out a full and proper investigation to determine if this is the case.

If you believe that the employee is carrying out another job while they are supposed to be working for you, you should carry out an investigation in to your suspicions. A suspect phone call or a rumour disclosed to you from a colleague will not be enough to carry out any action against the employee.

As this employee is not performing their job role this can be seen as a conduct issue and they can be disciplined for misconduct. If a disciplinary procedure is in place then this should be followed; carrying out an investigation, a disciplinary hearing and then offering the right to appeal. Employers should also look at whether this issue has occurred before and, if so, how this was dealt with at that time. Any disciplinary action taken against this employee should be reasonable in the circumstances. For example, if this second job only required the taking of a few phone calls during working hours a low level of sanction such as a first written warning may be reasonable.

Introducing clauses in to contracts to deter this practice can be considered, especially if the business is one where this could easily occur, such as a field based role which requires a high level of trust in employees. Clauses such as requiring the employee to devote full time and attention to your business during working hours or to require the employee to receive permission before undertaking a second job could reduce this problem and make disciplining for this easier.

If you need  any clarification on this issue then contact the Peninsula Advice Service on  0844 892 2772.