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Should Employers Implement a Moonlighting Policy?

Employees who freelance or work a second job may potentially pose challenges for your business. A moonlighting policy is a smart way to protect your organisation.

You can’t blame employees for wanting to get ahead, but workers with a second job or those who freelance might not be giving your business their full attention. Also known as moonlighting, this practice has generated cause for concern among many business leaders, so how can you deal with this tricky situation?

Today, many businesses implement a moonlighting policy that outlines what work employees can accept outside their primary position. Here, we delve into the nuances of moonlighting and offer straightforward advice on how your business can overcome this issue.

What is moonlighting?

Full-time employees are increasingly working on a side hustle. In fact, a 2017 survey found that over half of Singaporeans have another gig outside their main profession. While many business owners are happy for their employees to take on another position outside office hours, others are concerned workers won’t complete their roles to the highest standards if they’re distracted.

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Although some people think moonlighting is illegal in Singapore, no laws dictate whether someone can take on a second job in most cases. This makes it difficult for management to deal with. However, a moonlighting policy inside an employee’s signed contract can define workplace obligations and help you navigate any concerns.

If an employee agrees to a moonlighting policy yet breaks it, you may be within your right to take disciplinary action. However, you should always use your discretion in these situations to avoid making a complex matter even worse. Yet it’s important to remain aware of how moonlighting can cause conflicts of interest and other potentially problematic circumstances.

How workers moonlighting can impact your business

Wondering how moonlighting can make things more difficult for your business? Consider the following implications to determine whether a moonlighting policy is the best move for your operation.

1. Increased employee tiredness

You want your team to arrive at work alert and ready to perform at their best. However, those who spend long hours moonlighting before or after their job are far more likely to experience burnout because their outside activities take up too much time and energy. Naturally, an exhausted person is far more likely to deliver poor-quality work.

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2. Increased unavailability

Employees that turn up tired are one thing, but team members who constantly call in sick or don’t show up for work are a serious problem. If someone is so involved with their side hustle that it’s becoming a big distraction, it’s undoubtedly causing your business harm. In these situations, you must decide whether someone is being spread too thin to complete their role.

3. Side gig distractions

If someone is being paid to work at the business, it’s reasonable to expect them to focus on the tasks you give them. If an employee’s moonlighting practices take up so much time that they use office hours to work on their side hustle, this is another concerning issue that affects performance.

4. Conflicts of interest

It’s not surprising to discover talented workers are in demand as freelancers. However, this can give rise to troubling conflicts of interest where an employee spends valuable time working for a rival organisation. Not only is this a distraction from their daily tasks, but it can help a competitor outperform your operation.

What to do about employee moonlighting

Ready to tackle moonlighting in your office? Here are some tips to mitigate this issue and improve communication with your team members who want to work a side hustle.

1. Create a moonlighting policy

Moonlighting policies are now commonplace for businesses operating at every scale. This section in your employee contracts prohibits workers from taking jobs that cause a conflict of interest or require too much time away from their primary role. Meanwhile, if you allow side hustles under some circumstances, outlining permitted activities is a good idea.

2. Open communication channels

It’s important to be pragmatic about how you approach moonlighting in the workplace. Although you can implement a strict ban, you may find this turns some talented workers off from your organisation. You can explain your actions and encourage responsible moonlighting practices by communicating transparently with your team.

3. Track productivity

Whether you outright ban or allow some moonlighting, you must keep track of your employees’ productivity to identify concerning trends. If you notice performance drops from someone who is a freelancer, you’ll have precise data to discuss this issue with them. Plus, tracking your workers allows you to start disciplinary action if necessary.

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