What is Moonlighting? What Does It Mean For Your Business

what is moonlighting

Whether you work for a large corporation or a smaller business, moonlighting employees can have a significant effect on your business. From financial implications to productivity consequences, employees with non-disclosed second jobs could become a serious problem within your company. 

It can also be a difficult situation to handle. If you suspect that an individual is moonlighting, it’s essential that the situation is handled delicately, particularly if you don’t have proof of their activities or the situation yet. Accusations or disciplinary actions taken without concrete proof could open your business up to legal ramifications, such as unfair dismissals or unfair disciplinary processes.

That’s why it’s so important to know the facts about moonlighting before you proceed. To help get you started, we’ve put together a guide to moonlighting, what it means for your business and what steps you can take to move forward.

what is moonlighting

What Is Moonlighting?

In its most simple definition, moonlighting refers to a second job in addition to an individual’s regular employment. It can come in many forms, but usually becomes an issue if your employee has not disclosed their additional employment or it becomes a conflict of interest for your business.

Moonlighting isn’t illegal. Many of those who choose to take on a second job do so in order to supplement their income or make ends meet.

However, an employee’s second job could be a breach of contract if your business has policies against moonlighting or conflicts of interest. Even if you don’t have policies like this in place, there could be instances that warrant disciplinary action if the individual’s additional employment begins to affect their performance in their regular employment with you. 

7 Signs Of Moonlighting In The Workplace

It’s not always easy to tell if your employee is moonlighting. You may have a ‘gut feeling’ that something isn’t quite right or have suspicions when their behaviour begins to change. There are some common signs of moonlighting that could indicate your employee has a second job. It’s important to keep an eye out for these and investigate further if you believe it is necessary.

These signs can include:

1. An Increase In Requests To Work From Home

Flexible working can be a great way to encourage productivity and loyalty in employees you trust. However, it can become problematic if you don’t have a record of what your employee is completing while working from home. 

If you consistently have to question the work your employee is doing while at home or can’t see any evidence that work is being done, it could be that they are using this time for activities related to their second job. 

2. Leaving The Office Unannounced

Good employees don’t need to be micromanaged; you can trust them to get the job done in their own way. However, if you tend to have a ‘hands-off’ approach to management, there may be some individuals that take advantage of that. 

Moonlighting employees can struggle to juggle both jobs successfully and their second job may begin to encroach on their work with you. If you notice the individual leaving the office unannounced, perhaps to take phone calls or for extended periods of time, it could mean that they’re dealing with issues related to their additional employment.

3. Taking Long Meetings Out Of The Office

Offsite meetings are often required for many jobs and it can be customary for employees to spend significant portions of their time away with clients or at different locations related to your business. 

You should, however, become concerned if there is no real record of these meetings taking place. If there are no meeting minutes, no feedback about topics discussed or there is no confirmation by the party your employee was supposed to be meeting with, it could be that the individual is using this time for activities unrelated to their employment with you.

4. Unhappy or Disgruntled Co-Workers

As with many other workplace issues you may find that the knowledge your employee is moonlighting is common amongst other co-workers. It may be the case that particular employee’s are friends with the problematic ones and don’t want their employer to find the truth.

It can however cause issues amongst other staff that are aware of the situation and taking on an increased workload to compensate for the moonlighting employee’s poor productivity. This is one of the most dangerous consequences of moonlighting as it is not only the employee in question who is performing poorly but also having a knock-on effect with other employees. This very often leads to anonymous tips and whistleblower situations but any employer should ensure they take precaution to gather the evidence they need before responding to anonymous tips.

5. Poor Concentration & Tiredness

Linked with poor timekeeping, concentration and increased tiredness could be another sign that your employee is moonlighting. If your employee is attempting to squeeze in work before and after their 9-5 job or they’re working over the weekend, it is inevitable that they will feel more tired and have poorer concentration in their employment with you. This will have a direct effect on their productivity and performance.

This is particularly important if your business relies on well-rested employees to perform their jobs safely and effectively. There could be serious health and safety considerations, particularly in industries like construction, factory lines, hospitals and many more.

6. Calling In Sick Regularly Or Extended Periods Of Sick Leave

It can be commonplace for moonlighters to take advantage of sick leave to work other jobs. Unexplained absences (for example, without a doctor’s note) could be a sign that your employee is using that time for a second job. 

It’s also worth ensuring that your employee is not working if they have taken an extended period of sick leave.

7. Arriving Late Or Leaving Early

Poor timekeeping is often symptomatic of a moonlighting employee. Even if they keep their second job out-of-hours, it is likely that they will begin to feel the pressure of juggling two jobs. It could mean that they cut their hours short with you, arriving late or leaving early in order to manage their time for both jobs. 

This, of course, could have a productivity impact on their work with you and could be a breach of their employment contract if they’re not working their contracted hours.


cost of moonlighting to a business

The Cost Of Moonlighting On A Business

We’ve mentioned some impacts of moonlighting above, but it’s important to reiterate that moonlighting can have a serious cost for your business. Decreased productivity and performance has a clear financial impact and in some cases, you might be paying your employee for work they are not doing.

It’s also important to think about the impact of your employee taking their skills and knowledge elsewhere. If the individual is working with a competitor or a company within a similar industry, there is a chance that they are sharing confidential or proprietary information gained from work within your company with them. 

Even if they are not doing so, working with a competitor means that your employee is assisting with the promotion of competitive goods or services that could result in a financial impact for you.

private investigators and moonlighting

How Can A Private Investigator Help?

While the above signs of moonlighting mentioned are all indicators that something isn’t right with your employee, they do not definitively mean that your employee has a second job that conflicts with yours. 

With this in mind, it is important that you find concrete proof of moonlighting before taking disciplinary steps. A private investigator with commercial experience is able to provide you with evidence or proof of the situation for you to move forward. 

Remember that an employee could claim unfair dismissal or unfair disciplinary processes if you don’t have proof, so it’s a good idea to involve professional help to address the situation.

Benefits Of A Private Investigator

While it might seem like a drastic step to get a private investigator involved, it’s important to remember that moonlighting employees can have a serious impact on your business performance and financial success. 

It is possible to conduct the investigation yourself, but there are real benefits to hiring a private investigator to do so. These can include:

1. Professional Experience

Private investigators have professional experience in investigating a wide variety of situations. Those with commercial experience (like us here at Reveal PI) will know exactly what to do to find out more about a moonlighting employee. That means your private investigator will save you time and effort, as well as ensuring that the investigation is done so discreetly and covertly without causing the employee any unwanted stress or duress. 

2. Specialist Tools & Technology

As well as experience, private investigators have specialist tools and technology to ensure that the job is done efficiently and effectively. These are often not possible (or very expensive) for companies or individuals to access themselves.

3. Independent Verification Of Information

When you suspect an employee of moonlighting, it can be that the situation becomes tense or conflictual. It’s also possible that the moonlighting individual refutes any evidence you find yourself as biased. With this in mind, it’s useful to have a non-partisan private investigator involved to provide independent proof of the situation.

Lets Summarise

Whatever the size of your organisation, moonlighting can have a serious impact on your business. We also know that it’s not always easy to prove that your employee has additional employment or explain why their behaviour has changed significantly. 

Ever considered hiring a private investigator in the UK? Call Reveal PI Today at 0330 808 9344 or visit 11 St Paul’s Square, Birmingham, West Midlands B3 1RB.

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