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Should You Disclose Your Moonlighting?

Should You Disclose Your Moonlighting?

Should You Disclose Your Moonlighting?

There’s no Canadian legal ban against side hustles, but that doesn’t mean it’s always acceptable. 

Damn you, butt dialling! It chewed a well-paid IBM Canada employee in the behind. Some pocket-produced calls exposed his moonlighting. Got him fired from his real job. He took it to court but lost. 

Should folks with a full-time job who side hustle start fessing up? While there’s no specific law banning secondary work, certain factors make it risky. Whether to reveal or not thus depends on what’s shaking.

The Meaning Of Moonlighting
Moonlighting started as evening employment after finishing the “day job.” Today it’s supplementing the main job with external work that generally has fewer hours. That secondary cash cow could be an actual job or a freelance gig.

What The Law Says About Side Hustles
It’s kosher in Canada to work on the side. No need to even report it. Here’s the catch-22: just ‘cause it’s legal doesn’t always make it acceptable. That’s because second jobs can open a Pandora’s box of conflicts. These could lead to real or perceived breaches of the employment agreement.

Stuff That Puts Tushies In Slings
Like that famous GoPro kayaker, people with side gigs should get slapped by a seal (and octopus tentacle) if any of said work…  
•    Is done during the main job’s office hours
•    Uses the regular job’s resources (staff, suppliers, intellectual property) or equipment (devices, phone plans, staplers)
•    Tries to hire staff away from their day-job 
•    Sells or promotes to staff without the employer’s permission

What’s likelier to get people fired for cause is doltish conflicts of interest. Imagine selling Apple computers during the day, then working for IBM part-time. Dumber still? The side gig is selling Apple computers from a different distributor, hence competing directly with the main one.

Why Consider Disclosure
Hiding the side gig is like living at a no-tell motel. Might be sleazy, might not. If caught it seems dodgy regardless. Here are some compelling reasons to reveal upfront:
•    If moonlighting violates a policy of the primary employer, there’s a chance to explain and ask for an exception (get the approval in writing, just in case)
•    When caught without having disclosed, the damaged trust could lead to justifiable dismissal (courts tend to favour upfront honesty)
•    For small side hustles that produce pocket change it’s probable that no one will care, yet by bringing it to their attention, it shows integrity  

Divulging also makes sense when an outside role helps the employer. For instance, if it taps into a broader network or leads to the employee’s skills development.

Cons Of Being Open About It
Regardless if the side work’s legit and doesn’t take away from regular job performance, revealing it could cause problems. It might raise question marks about loyalty and future availability. Also, future botches could be blamed (rightly or wrongly) on being distracted by outward duties.

Whether to reveal or not also hinges on relations with the principal employer and boss. If they love and can’t afford to lose the double dipper, they may be more open to don’t-ask-don’t tell. 

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not legal advice. Consult with an employment law specialist for personalized recommendations.


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